Home Page Link Thaxted - under the present flightpath and threatened with quadrupled activity Takeley's 12th century parish church, close to proposed second runway Harcamlow Way, Bamber's Green - much of the long distance path and village would disappear under Runway 2 Clavering - typical of the Uttlesford villages threatened by urbanisation
Campaigning against proposals to expand Stansted Airport

image SSE NEWS ARCHIVE - April to June 2005

24 June 2005


Aircraft emissions to double by 2030 despite hi-tech jets

Ben Webster, Transport Correspondent - The Times - 21 June 2005

Any savings in average emissions per flight will be eclipsed by the huge growth in air travel

GREENHOUSE gas emissions from aircraft will double by 2030 even if airlines invest in new fuel-efficient planes, the industry predicted yesterday. Any savings in average emissions per flight will be eclipsed by the huge growth in air travel forecast for the next 25 years. British airlines, airports and aerospace manufacturers yesterday published a strategy for improving efficiency, which included an ambitious target for halving emissions per trip.

The Sustainable Aviation group, which includes British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Airbus UK and BAA, the airports operator, has been set up to lobby against environmental taxes on aviation.

The European Commission is investigating the feasibility of a tax on aviation fuel or an emissions charge as an alternative, or in addition, to extending its emissions trading scheme to airlines.

The group aims to introduce new aircraft by 2020 that will produce 50 per cent less carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, than equivalent new aircraft did in 2000. Other targets include reducing nitrogen oxides by 80 per cent and noise by 50 per cent.

The group admits that improvements in efficiency will not keep pace with the rising number of flights. Roger Wiltshire, the chairman of the group, said: "Growth in demand for air travel may well exceed growth in technology's ability to offset emissions."

The Government estimates that passenger numbers will more than double, from 200 million in 2003 to 470 million in 2030. Aircraft carbon dioxide emissions, even assuming that fuel efficiency targets are met, are predicted to increase from 8.8 million tonnes in 2000 to 18 million by 2030.

The group admits that emissions of greenhouse gases at cruising altitude are far more damaging than emissions at ground level. Environmental groups say that the impact is three times greater. At this rate, a passenger on a return flight from London to New York would contribute twice as much to global warming as the average driver does in a year.

The group pledged to cooperate with scientists in investigating the impact of emissions at altitude. It also gave a commitment to report each airline's fleet fuel efficiency by the end of 2005. This will expose those airlines which have failed to invest in new aircraft.

Airlines will also encourage passengers to make voluntary contributions to offset their carbon emissions. Several projects, including Future Forests and Atmosfair, already offer air passengers the opportunity to pay for carbon-reducing measures such as planting trees.

British Airways is going further by working with customers from large corporations to help them to offset all their carbon dioxide emissions. Andy Kershaw, BA's environmental affairs manager, said that the airline would calculate the emissions from all flights booked by a company and then jointly invest in sustainable projects around the world.

The group hopes to persuade the Government that aviation can best help the environment not by reducing its own emissions but by paying for other industries to cut theirs.

Mr Wiltshire rejected calls for environmental taxes on flights, describing them as a "blunt, inappropriate and ineffective weapon". But the group admitted that airlines were unlikely to find an alternative to fossil fuels to power aircraft for several decades.

The GreenSkies Alliance, a coalition of environmental groups opposed to the growth of aviation, said that the targets in the strategy were merely commitments to conduct research and that there was no guarantee they would be met. Jeff Gazzard, the alliance's co-ordinator, said: "The best that can be said is that this strategy, if it happens - and it's a really big if - will make things a little less horrible than would otherwise be the case."


Sell your car, says Ryanair boss (and travel by air?)

Andrew Clark, Transport Correspondent - The Guardian - 22 June 2005

The thorny issue of climate change has left most airlines bending over backwards to sound green. But Europe's largest low-cost carrier, Ryanair, has dismissed its environmentally nervous rivals as "lemmings".

Ryanair's chief executive, Michael O'Leary, has refused to support an industry-wide effort to limit carbon dioxide emissions. Asked yesterday what he would say to travellers worried about the environment, he replied: "I'd say, sell your car and walk."

This week, airlines including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, easyJet, Flybe and First Choice, formed a sustainable aviation group aimed at cracking down on pollution, noise and harmful emissions.

Mr O'Leary said Ryanair would not be joining: "A lot of members of the sustainable aviation group won't be around in 10 years' time - that'll be their main contribution to sustainable aviation."

He described the coalition as an example of "high-fare airlines getting together to pursue policies blocking competition," adding: "The sustainable aviation group, God help us, is another bunch of lemmings shuffling towards a cliff edge."

Aircraft account for about 5% of carbon dioxide emissions and air travel is forecast to double within 25 years. There are fears that cheap flights could hamper efforts to fulfil Britain's commitments agreed at the Kyoto summit in tackling climate change.

The aviation industry favours an emissions trading scheme, allowing airlines to buy and sell carbon dioxide allocations. But Mr O'Leary said such a scheme amounted to a plot by airlines such as British Airways to punish rapidly growing rivals.

"British Airways won't be growing its existing emission levels because it's going nowhere - it's shrinking," he said. "We will be increasing our emissions over the next few years simply through growth in traffic."

Roger Wiltshire, director general of the British Air Transport Association, said: "They obviously don't want to engage in a debate over the environment, which is rather sad."

Environmentalists were less circumspect. Jeff Gazzard, of the GreenSkies Alliance, said: "Michael O'Leary is a recidivist, serial polluter and he should be arrested for crimes against the climate."


Cheap flights no excuse for Heathrow expansion, says mayor

Martina Smit -This is Local London - 23 June 2005

Mayor Ken Livingstone said Britons should take less cheap holidays

A third runway at Heathrow for masses of cheap holiday flights is "completely out of the question", London mayor Ken Livingstone has said. The mayor promised to pour official funds into any public investigation of plans for the airport's expansion.

Heathrow can cope with core business traffic, but not with endless cheap holiday flights, Mr Livingstone told the London Assembly during question time yesterday.

The mayor condemned the lack of taxes on jet fuel that allowed people to fly to Europe for just £6. "It is absolutely ridiculous that if you drive down to Devon for a holiday, you will make a substantial contribution to the exchequer by the petrol you buy. But if you fly to Marbella, you won't." Taxes on energy use should be fair, he added.

Assembly member Geoff Pope pointed out tha 700 houses would be pulled down to create a boundary zone for a third runway. About 2,500 people live within 500 yards of the knocking down area, he added. Another 37,000 residents would lose their air quality, and six schools in the area are at risk.

The measures were "completely unacceptable", Mr Livingstone answered. "I do not support the construction of a third runway at Heathrow."

Last month new maps by the Civil Aviation Authority showed for the first time that aircraft noise over areas as far as Wandsworth, Clapham Common and Lambeth exceeds 57 decibels over 16 hours - the official level at which residents are annoyed.

The mayor, who has given two grants of £20,000 to local residents fighting the proposed extension, said he saw "no case" for increased night flights at Heathrow.

Britain should also make its own holiday resorts more attractive to keep people from flying to Spain "just because it's a bit sunny", he added. "We have to change the way we live. Whether it is driving a car, going off on too many cheap holidays or letting the sprinkler run all night to keep the lawn nice and green, there is an energy cost and a global warming cost to all these activities."


Swedes assess children's environmental Health

Environment Daily 1906 - 23 June 2005

Swedish children are healthy, but some environmental factors still pose risks, according to the latest annual report from Sweden's Environmental objectives council.

The council was set up to monitor implementation of 15 national environmental quality objectives, adopted in 1999. This is the first time it has focused on children's health.

The report identifies air and noise pollution as key threats.

It recommends Sweden should focus on greening transport, chemicals, forestry and agriculture, and push for the EU chemicals legislation reach to be "rigorous and effective".

See press release: www.miljomal.nu/las_mer/infomaterial/pressmeddelande/press/050602e.php

23 June 2005


Aviation groups set targets to limit their environmental impact

Kevin Done, Aerospace Correspondent - Financial Times - 21 June 2005

The aviation and aerospace industries sought yesterday to combat the growing campaign against the rapid growth in air travel by launching a comprehensive programme for long-term reductions in aviation's impact on the environment.

The initiative received a strong endorsement from the government, which is backing a big increase in airport capacity, including the building of at least two new runways in the south-east of England, but it was attacked by environmental groups.

Jeff Gazzard, co-ordinator of the GreenSkies Alliance, said: "As usual, the air transport sector believes that spin is the answer to its climate crimes. The wish list they've tried to present today as fact is simply a smoke and mirrors illusion."

The targets set by the "sustainable aviation" strategy include limiting the impact of air travel on climate change by improving fuel efficiency and carbon dioxide emissions of new aircraft by 50 per cent per seat kilometer by 2020 compared with 2000 levels.

It is also seeking to improve air quality by reducing nitrogen oxide emissions by 80 per cent over the same period and to lower the perceived external noise of new aircraft by 50 per cent.

The programme was launched by a group of leading airlines, airports, aerospace manufacturers and the air traffic control service.

They are aiming to establish a common system for reporting total carbon dioxide emissions and the fuel efficiency of the aircraft fleet by the end of 2005 and are pressing for the inclusion of aviation in the European Union's emissions trading scheme as early as possible.

Noise limitation at airports could include landing and take-off restrictions.

Meeting tough environmental conditions, in particular for air quality, is a pre-condition already set by the government for building a third runway at Heathrow.

In a foreword to the strategy document, Tony Blair, the prime minister, says that "by working with government and society to tackle the environmental issues associated with aviation, the industry can demonstrate that economic success, social progress and respect for the environment can go hand in hand".

However, Mr Gazzard said the fuel efficiency research targets had been taken into account by the government when it produced the 2003 aviation white paper. "Carbon dioxide from aircraft is forecast by the Department for Transport to grow from 8.8m tonnes in 2000 to 18m by 2030. That's 25 per cent of the entire UK output of this dangerous greenhouse gas, a staggering figure that already assumes these very optimistic and questionable fuel efficiency improvements will be made. We already know that today's 'targets' will not reduce air transport's carbon dioxide below these dangerous and worrying levels," he said. The gap between technology and growth was increasing, not shrinking, and it needed to be closed. The efficiency gains were misleadingly presented as reductions, but this was wholly unacceptable without the context of the aviation sector's unrestrained growth.

Rod Eddington, British Airways chief executive, said: "The whole industry must accept global warming as a reality and galvanise its efforts to limit generation of greenhouse gases. This is what the sustainable aviation process is about."

23 June 2005


Hordes of Polish plumbers unblock Ryanair cashflow

Harry Wallop - Daily Telegraph - 22 June 2005

Polish plumbers have struck again. The hard-working, low-cost tradesmen blamed for the No vote in the French referendum, and lauded by the British middle class for unblocking drains cheaply are now helping out Ryanair.

Michael O'Leary: claims high oil prices will not affect Ryanair profit forecasts

The airline said yesterday that three months after launching flights between London Stansted and Poland, 80pc of passengers are Polish citizens coming over to the UK to work or popping back home. Announcing two new destinations in Poland, Lodz and Poznan, chief executive Michael O'Leary said he expected to fly 800,000 passengers to and from Poland in the first 12 months.

After the first year, the routes will start becoming more popular with tourists, according to Ryanair, but the initial flyers are those that would otherwise take a 48-hour coach trip to the UK.

The Home Office estimates that about 120,000 workers entered the UK from the new member countries of the European Union between March 2004 and March 2005 - a fact cited earlier this month by the Governor of the Bank of England to explain why wage inflation was so low. However, Mr O'Leary said: "I've been speaking to the Polish ambassador. He reckons that there are closer to 450,000 Poles in the UK."

Mr O'Leary, alongside announcing the new routes including Kaunas in Lithuania, insisted that oil at $60 a barrel would not force Ryan-air's to cut profit forecasts. Oil prices surged to $59 a barrel on Monday, forcing airline shares to fall. "The bloodbath in Europe is continuing. If fuel stays at $60 this winter, you'll see a lot of competition going bust or increasing their fuel surcharges... We'd like to see $60 for the rest of the year," he said.

He also took the opportunity to take a swipe at the "sustainable aviation" initiative launched earlier this week by a consortium of rival airlines and airports, designed to reduce aeroplane carbon emissions. ''Their major contribution to sustainable aviation will be by going bust," he said.

23 June 2005


Emissions from aviation need to be cut, the SDC warns

News Environment - 22 June 2005

New taxes on road and air travel are needed if the UK is to meet greenhouse gas targets, a watchdog has warned.

An immediate emissions charge on domestic flights should be followed by a levy on international travel, says the Sustainable Development Commission. It also suggests increased road taxes to cut pollution from vehicles and measures to cut building emissions.

The SDC said such action would help the UK meet an annual shortfall of at least 10 million tonnes in carbon reductions.

"The UK has a massive gap to fill if we are to get back on track in meeting our 2010 target of a 20% cut in carbon dioxide emissions and the signs at the moment do not look good," said SDC chairman Jonathan Porritt.

'Real test'

The SDC urged ministers to meet domestic emissions targets in order to encourage international action on climate change.

It said the UK should not neglect "its own backyard" when climate change is discussed at the G8 summit.

"This is the real test of the UK government's leadership in this area, whatever may or may not emerge from the G8 Summit," said Mr Porritt.

The body also called for more household energy saving and a "carbon neutral" public sector by 2020.

The report is a summary of a full submission into the government's Climate Change Programme Review which is expected to report later this year.

The SDC recommendations include:

* Immediately impose an emissions charge on all internal air travel, followed by a charge on all aircraft leaving the UK
* A 50% cut in carbon emissions from buildings (over 1990 levels) by 2050
* A 50% cut in carbon emissions from road transport by 2025 (over 1990 levels)
* Radical new levels of Vehicle Excise Duty to tackle road transport emissions (currently 24% of total emissions) and encourage the take up of lower emission vehicles
* Review road charging proposals to ensure they dramatically reduce emissions as well as tackling congestion
* Not seeking to fill the 10m tonne carbon gap by buying up carbon savings from other countries

OUR COMMENT: A sensible programme that could easily be initiated and would not cause any undue hardship. These are today's effective measures. Improved technology is needed, but this will take time - it is a long term measure when action is needed now.

Pat Dale

23 June 2005


EU greenhouse gases resume growth in 2003

Environment Daily 1904 - 21 June 2005

EU greenhouse gas emissions rose 1.5% in 2003, and 1.3% in the old EU-15 members, the European environment agency (EEA) reported on Tuesday. The bloc's environment commissioner Stavros Dimas called the increase disappointing, but said he remained confident the EU could still meet Kyoto emission targets.

The 2003 data have dashed hopes that a small cut in emissions in 2002 might mark the end of what is now five-year rising trend that started in 1998. EU-15 emissions are now just 1.7% below 1990 levels, compared with their Kyoto target of -8% by 2008-12. EU-15 emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the principal greenhouse gas, are now 3.4% above their 1990 level.

From here, for the EU-15 to achieve its Kyoto commitment, it will have to cut greenhouse gas emissions by virtually 1% every year from 2004 to 2012. It is already known that emissions actually rose last year in two key countries: Spain and the UK.

Mr Dimas insisted that new EU policies would help to bring emissions back down post-2003. He highlighted the EU's industrial carbon emission trading scheme, directives on the taxation of energy products and the promotion of biofuels in transport and still draft proposals to control emissions from fluorinated greenhouse gases (f-gases).

The EEA identified higher coal burning as the main driver for the rise in 2003 greenhouse gas emissions. In the EU-15, energy industries emitted an extra 24m tonnes of CO2-equivalent. Household and services emitted 18m tonnes more and industry an extra 17m tonnes. Transport emissions rose by a comparatively modest 6m tonnes. The waste and agriculture sectors cut releases.

Thirteen of the EU-15 countries reported rising emissions. Only Ireland and Portugal bucked the trend. Italy recorded by far the largest absolute increase at +15m tonnes. Next came Finland with an extra 8m tonnes, which was a huge 11% year-on-year rise.

In the EU-15, emission levels now range from 41% above the 1990 baseline (Spain) to nearly 19% below (Germany). Performance across the EU-10 is spread even more widely. Emissions in Cyprus (which has no Kyoto target at all) are 72% up on 1990. In the three Baltic states they are over 50% down, the most extreme case being Lithuania at -66%.

21 June 2005


Air travel is expected to triple over the next 30 years - new targets to reduce the environmental impact of air travel are being launched by the UK's aviation industry

BBC News - 20 June 2005

Airlines, airports and aircraft manufacturers aim to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases produced by new aircraft over the next 15 years. Companies want aircraft built within that period to produce half of the carbon dioxide they currently emit.

Air travel is expected to triple over the next 30 years, amid concerns about its impact on the environment. The new objectives have received the backing of most of the UK's aviation companies. There will also be similar targets to reduce the noise pollution caused by passenger aircraft in future.

BBC transport correspondent Tom Symonds said environmentalists were likely to criticise the plan for not seeking to reduce the amount of aircraft in Britain's crowded skies. They had wanted larger taxes imposed on air travel, he said. "But the companies behind the strategy say its radical - and will deliver improvements to the environment."


Fly now, grieve later

Press Release from Brendon Sewill - 20 June 2005

Air travel is set to become the world's largest contributor to climate change, but governments around the globe are refusing to deal with this. In aviation, Britain, after the United States, is the world's worst climate change culprit. The government's policy of trying to get aviation into the EU emissions trading scheme won't solve the problem.

These conclusions - directly relevant to the main themes of the G8 Summit and Britain's presidency of the EU – are contained in a new study written by Brendon Sewill, a former Treasury adviser.

'Fly now, grieve later', published by the Aviation Environment Federation, also draws on academic analysis to show that the external cost of UK aviation (what the polluter should pay) is in the range of £6 billion to £12.5 billion a year. These figures, far higher than previous estimates, will increase the pressure on the government to tax air travel.

International treaty obligations are reviewed, with the conclusion that - given the political will - tax on aviation fuel, VAT on air tickets, or an emissions charge, are practicable, and would be far more effective in tackling climate change than including aviation in the EU emissions trading scheme. Such action - even if negotiations succeed - is likely to prove ineffective: for example, it is shown that British Airways would only need to buy permits to cover 0.25% of the damage caused by their CO2 emissions. "No wonder the airlines like the emissions trading scheme so much" says Sewill.

Brendon Sewill was responsible two years ago for persuading the Department for Transport to re-run their computer forecasts on the assumption that by 2030 air travel would pay the same tax as car travel, proving that no new runways would be required.

Claims that taxes on air travel would harm the poor are rebutted; and suggestions that the aviation industry is of such economic importance that it should be exempt from normal tax are disproved. "No one is suggesting that people should stop flying, merely that with fair tax, the soaring growth in air travel would be slowed down."

The excuse that it is necessary to wait for international agreement before governments can act, is shown to be false. Immediate measures which could be taken by the UK include increasing air passenger duty, imposing VAT on air tickets, abolishing duty-free sales and amending the planning system to discourage airport expansion. "Only if action on these lines is taken," says Sewill, "can Britain have any claim to lead the world on climate change issues."

Fly now, grieve later will be available for viewing on www.aef.org.uk


Environmental campaigners have reacted angrily to the UK aviation industry's so-called "Sustainable Aviation" Strategy, launched by the UK's airlines, airports and aircraft manufacturers this morning

GreenSkiesAlliance - Press Release - 20 June 2005

Jeff Gazzard, co-ordinator of the GreenSkies Alliance, said: "As usual, the air transport sector believes that spin is the answer to its climate crimes. The wish list they've tried to present today as fact is simply a smoke and mirrors illusion."

"The fuel efficiency research 'targets' for example have already been taken into account by the Government when producing the 2003 'predict & provide' White Paper. CO2, the main greenhouse gas from aircraft, is forecast by the Department for Transport to grow from 8.8 million tonnes in 2000 to 18, yes 18 million by 2030. That's 25% of the entire UK output of this dangerous greenhouse gas, a staggering figure that already assumes these very optimistic and questionable fuel efficiency improvements will be made."

"So we already know that today's 'targets' will not reduce air transport's CO2 below these dangerous and worrying levels at all."

"We are really scraping the bottom of the barrel for fuel efficiency and operational improvements - the best that can be said is that this 'strategy', if it happens - and it's a really big 'if' - will make things a little less horrible than would otherwise be the case."

The GreenSkies Alliance points out that these targets are fundamentally flawed because:

* They are simply a research menu: there are no guaranteed R&D or production or in-service dates attached to them

* The strategy completely lacks any tighter international regulatory framework that could help drive any such research into production, like tougher emissions and noise standards at ICAO

* The research aims will probably be backed by a call for yet more millions of R&D subsidies to the aircraft and aero engine manufacturing sector

* Efficiency gains are misleadingly presented as reductions - this is wholly unacceptable without the context of the sectors unrestrained growth which even the DfT admits will happen

* The DfT "Future of Aviation White" Paper has already included ALL these assumptions in ALL its forecasts; ALL environmental impacts from greenhouse gases, local-to-airport NOx air quality and aircraft noise numbers ALL rise by orders of magnitude

* Efficiency and operational gains of 1-2% p.a. will not offset the emissions growth of 3-4% between now and 2030

Jeff Gazzard added: "Our reaction to these cynical claims is one of cold fury. Before Tony Blair had the cheek to endorse these wildly overblown claims in his foreword to the document, perhaps he should have at least asked his independent advisors at the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution and the Sustainable Development Commission, for their expert advice and comments."

"We've written to the Prime Minister today asking him to get both the RCEP and SDC to review this aviation industry strategy; comment on whether the aims are achievable; and most importantly, place them in the context of the White Paper, to identify what else needs to be done to control and reduce the worrying unsustainable environmental impacts of unrestrained aviation growth."

"The gap between technology and growth is increasing, not shrinking, and it needs to be closed - fast! This so-called sustainable aviation strategy completely fails to address this issue at all."


Europe fails to cut greenhouse gas emissions -
Figures show Kyoto commitment unlikely to be met

John Vidal, Environment Editor - The Guardian - 18 June 2005

Europe is failing to tackle climate change, putting further pressure on Tony Blair to come up with a fresh initiative at the G8 summit and embarrassing the European commission, which is floundering over budget cuts and the constitution treaty.

The latest figures for Europe's greenhouse gas emissions, seen by the Guardian but not due to be released until next week, show that the 15 countries who were EU members in 2003 increased their overall emissions by 1.1% in the year up to 2004.

Under the Kyoto agreement, which came into force earlier this year, EU countries must reduce emissions by 8% by 2012 - something which looks increasingly unlikely.

Figures from the European Environment Agency show that only France, Germany, Sweden and the UK have any hope of cutting their energy use in time to meet their targets and that most countries are now falling well behind.

They also show that Britain increased its total emissions more than all other EU countries except Italy and Finland in 2003/4. The 1.3% increase, equivalent to 7.4m tonnes of carbon, was mainly because people drove more.

Britain is expected to only just fulfil its Kyoto obligations but not the government's more ambitious target of a 20% cut in emissions by 2010.

In the EU only Ireland and Portugal have cut their emissions. But both are expected to exceed their future targets following years of economic expansion. Finland, Denmark and Austria burned more fossil fuels than in previous years.

Yesterday, the commission played down the figures, blaming a harsh winter for the increases. "It was very cold across Europe. The number of days that people needed to hear their homes was much higher," said a spokeswoman.

But the figures are embarrassing for Britain, which is chairing the G8's discussions on climate change and assumes the presidency of the EU in less than two weeks. The statistics may weaken Britain's negotiating hand with the US by suggesting that wealthy countries' policies to curb the use of fossil fuels are not working.

One reason the US gave for not joining the Kyoto treaty was because the US administration said it would not deliver the cuts needed to avoid serious climate change.

Chris Green, the Lib Dems' environment spokesman in the European parliament, said: "The upward trend in European emissions is very worrying. These figures put in doubt the EU's commitment to fighting climate change."

"The commission must seize the initiative and give a stronger lead."

Catherine Pearce, global climate change spokeswoman for Friends of the Earth, said: "If Britain and the rest of Europe cannot get it right, then how can anyone expect the US or developing countries to?"

Leaked papers showed yesterday that the Bush administration officials working behind the scenes in advance of the G8 summit have weakened key sections of a proposal for joint climate change action by the G8.

In the past few weeks, negotiators have deleted language which set ambitious targets to cut carbon dioxide emissions and stricter environmental standards for World Bank-funded power projects.

Next week the government's Sustainable Development Commission will propose radical new vehicle and aviation taxes, greater household energy efficiency and a carbon neutral public sector to save at least 10m tonnes of carbon.

The UK's emissions are increasing mainly because rising traffic levels are eliminating the small gains being made in fuel efficiency.

Transport is responsible for about a quarter of all British emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas.

OUR COMMENT: The intentions of the aviation industry to reduce CO2 emissions by 50% should be part of any effective climate change programme, and not only to reduce CO2, but also Nitrogen dioxide, and what about the effect of contrails? The big question that the industry has not answered is how soon and how can airlines be persuaded to buy these new greener aircraft? The latest models, the Boeing Dreamliner and the new super airbus 380 only offer a 20% relative reduction in CO2. They will be around for the next 30 years as will many of today's more polluting models. Action is needed NOW and the aviation industry must contribute NOW . Their immediate action could be very simple - do not plan for any overall increase in the number of flights until these green planes are in sight of a production line. If more passenger accommodation is needed, organise the planes and schedules better. As for taxes, what is fair for the motorist is certainly fair for the air traveller.

Pat Dale

18 June 2005


Travel Tax won't work

Letter from Dr Andrew Sentence, Chief Economist and Head of Environmental Affairs, BA - The Guardian - 16 June 2005

As your Leader says (June 14th) an international tax on aviation to fund extra development aid would be illogical and confused. But there is no evidence that your suggestion of increasing taxes on air travel as a means of combating climate change would achieve the goals you rightly seek.

At British Airways, we agree that aviation needs to address its contribution to climate change. But the way forward is through emissions trading, not further taxation. Emissions trading provides companies with a financial incentive to invest in cleaner technologies and improve their environmental performance within a gradually reducing emissions limit. It is the most effective and efficient way of dealing with carbon emissions from aviation.

Additional tax is simply a levy that airlines must pay (or pass on to passengers) no matter how old or polluting their aircraft. The extra financial burden will make it more difficult for them to invest in a newer more fuel efficient fleet.

Letter from Mike Gwilliam, Director of Planning and Transport, South-East England Regional Assembly - The Guardian - 16June 2005

Recently published research by independent consultants for the south-east regional assembly very much supports the message in your editorial. Our consultants analysed the implications and impacts of the government's aviation White Paper. Their conclusions were unequivocal.

They state: "The available evidence base does not provide any reason why either the general recommendations of the White Paper… or its specific recommendations in relation to Heathrow and Gatwick, should be supported. Indeed the evidence indicates that the aviation White Paper is at variance with many national policies and is inherently unsustainable." In essence, the massive increase in aviation proposed by the government would create such growth in levels of pollution as to undermine its new climate change targets and its sustainable development, energy and transport strategies.

Yet there is a way forward. Our consultant identified a five point package that would still accommodate substantial, albeit lower, levels of aviation growth. One of the essential components would be to raise the costs of low-cost flying. The government is now committed to such a policy for surface transport, water, waste and some forms of energy. Why should aviation be different?

18 June 2005


The East of England Plan is the region's Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS). The policies in the Plan which will ultimately be approved by the Government will decide the way the region is planned and developed up to 2021. The final RSS is a statutory document and carries weight particularly because all council decisions about development in their part of the region will have to comply with the content of the final RSS. As the master plan for the region the RSS is therefore key to ensuring the sustainable and environmentally responsible development of the region. The policies it contains will shape the region's development and directly influence people's quality of life and the character of their communities.

OUR COMMENT: On Tuesday 14th June those invited to present oral evidence at the Examination in public of the Plan met to discuss the proposed programme. This has been published and comments are welcomed during the next few weeks. The programme suggested by the examining panel is satisfactory, with one major exception, Stansted Airport.

Apparently, as the Aviation White Paper is regarded as government policy it cannot be objected to in the usual way. However, as was pointed out in the document itself, although an airport strategy was formulated, it had to pass through the Planning system for approval, and, it would not be implemented by the government, but by the relevant airport operators. This raises a number of issues which need to be further discussed.

We remember that at the Judicial Review a senior government spokesman gave his view that at an Examination in public procedure was governed by PPS11 which says (para 2.4) "national policy will apply unless a regional justification for not doing so is supported by the panel following an examination in public and accepted by the Secretary of State."

If this is so, with due respect to the Panel's apparent views at the preliminary hearing on June 14th, arguments against the development of Stansted Airport should be admissible provided they are based on regional considerations.

Pat Dale

The Examination in Public starts at the Maltings, Ely, on Wednesday 14th September 2005 and is set to end on 16th December 2005. See: http://www.gos.gov.uk/goeast/planning/regional_planning/rss_eip_panel_sec

Taking part in the Examination in Public is by invitation only – no one has a right to be heard – and the hearings which are presided over by an independent panel of inspectors, are open to the public to observe.

15 June 2005


Taking Flight

Leader - The Guardian - 14 June 2005

A useful sideline from the finance ministers meeting was that the world's leading industrialised economies are still willing to consider a Franco-German proposal that additional development aid be funded by an international tax on airline tickets. The suggestion that less than one pound should be added to every ticket, has drawn strong if predictable criticism from airlines. BA called it "illogical", easyJet called it "confused" while Ryanair said it would strongly oppose such a scheme - and no doubt Ryanair's chief executive Michael O'Leary has more earthy views.

The airlines are right, the scheme is illogical and confused. Placing a tax on airline travel is a good idea – but the plan being considered on the G8 agenda would be the right move for the wrong reasons. The underlying concept is certainly a worthy one, placing a small tax on international transactions in order to fund international aid. One alternative way to do that would be a small tax on foreign exchange transactions.

Airline travel, on the other hand, is a major contributor to greenhouse gases. If a tax is to be placed on flight - both passenger and cargo - it should be as a means of combating climate change rather than the inappropriate, although admirable cause of increasing international aid. The time has come to seriously get to grips with changing the tax treatment of air travel. International air travel currently gets a free ride, in that aviation fuel is not taxed. That is a legacy of the antiquated structure that governs international air travel, a structure that is now growning under its own weight.

Two things could be done. First, the UK air passenger's duty could be scrapped and replaced with a levy based on distance flown, and the money used to directly offset the effects of greenhouse gases by planting trees or funding energy conservation measures. Second, duties should be applied to aviation fuel similar to those on other fuels to remove the implicit subsidy that aviation currently receives. Climate change is important enough that it deserves to be tackled in its own right.

15 June 2005


Sharon Asplin - East Anglian Times - 13 June 2005

ESSEX residents have delivered a snub to those pushing for expansion at Stansted Airport, insisting that protection of the environment is far more important than any financial benefits.

The verdict of county council's citizens' panel, commissioned to ensure that council policy remains in tune with the feelings and concerns of the local community, was welcomed last night by campaigners opposed to growth at the airport.

But airport operators BAA have also said they welcomed the findings of the survey, which found the drive to increase capacity at the airport was both "needed and wanted".

Although half the 1,300 residents questioned agreed that expansion of the airport would benefit the economy of the county, 69% said the "protection of the countryside, environment and Essex communities are more important than increasing the number of flights from Stansted".

A bigger Stansted Airport is also expected to generate more car and rail journeys and most residents questioned were concerned that the current transport infrastructure would be insufficient to cope with increased usage.

Nearly four-fifths (79%) agreed with the statement that: "An expanded Stansted would require more road and rail links to allow passengers to travel to and from the airport."

Lord Hanningfield, the Conservative leader of Essex County Council, welcomed the results of the research carried out by MORI.

He said: "This shows just how much people in Essex value quality of life available here. We have been determined to protect our environment from excessive development and I am delighted that the county council's actions have been so closely in tune with the wishes of Essex people."

"Over coming years, the county council will be fighting to ensure a proper balance is struck between economic development and the protection of one of the most attractive environments in England."

The survey was one of a series, funded jointly by Essex County Council and Essex Police, with each individual survey costing about £30,000. In this latest one, 1,300 people of all ages and backgrounds and from all parts of the county were quizzed. As well as questions about Stansted, they were asked about more general themes such as waste disposal and policing issues.

The findings were welcomed by protest group Stop Stansted Expansion, although it queried even the economic viability of expansion.

Campaign director Carol Barbone said: "The economic case for expanding Stansted is highly dubious, resting not only on the need for cross-subsidy from Heathrow and Gatwick but also a raft of tax exemptions for the aviation industry."

"Also in doubt is the likelihood of proper funding to put in place the rail links which would be needed to cope with a fourfold increase in airport passengers if expansion went ahead. It is little wonder that the people of Essex regard BAA's plans with such suspicion."

Last night a spokesman for BAA at Stansted Airport said: "Our initial reaction to the survey results is good news."

"The people of Essex, whose opinions matter, agree that expansion is needed and wanted."

"We clearly recognise our responsibility to the environment and economy and very shortly will be talking to the community on this very subject."

A Government aviation White Paper published last in December 2003 supported the idea of a second runway at Stansted Airport.

Regional businessmen and industry have broadly welcomed the move and earlier this year Prime Minister Tony Blair stressed the second runway was vital to ensure economic growth. But many residents are opposed to the plan, claiming it would have a devastating impact on the environment. They claim scores of homes would be lost and swathes of countryside destroyed.


Stansted Expansion: Essex Residents Place
Environmental Protection Above Profit

13 June 2005

Residents of Essex place greater importance on the protection of the environment than the financial benefits of an expanded Stansted Airport. That is the finding of research from the Essex County Council's citizens' panel.

Although fifty per cent (50%) of residents agreed that expansion of the airport would benefit the economy of Essex, sixty-nine per cent (69%) said the "protection of the countryside, environment and Essex communities are more important than increasing the number of flights from Stansted."

Given that an expanded Stansted could generate more car and rail journeys than any other airport in the world, it is not surprising that Essex residents felt strongly that: "An expanded Stansted would require more road and rail links to allow passengers to travel to and from the airport". Seventy-nine per cent (79%) of residents agreed with this statement.

Lord Hanningfield, Leader of Essex County Council, welcomed the results of the research: "This shows just how much people in Essex value quality of life available here. We have been determined to protect our environment from excessive development and I am delighted that the County Council's actions have been so closely in tune with the wishes of Essex people.

"Over coming years the County Council will be fighting to ensure a proper balance is struck between economic development and the protection of one of the most attractive environments in England."

OUR COMMENT: We note that BAA welcomes these results. Does this mean they are modifying their expansion proposals to take account of both local and national environmental concerns?

Pat Dale

13 June 2005


With the coming G8 summit and Tony Blair's stated intention to press for a general agreement on preventive measures to reduce climate change there are still many who doubt his intention to carry out essential policies that might lead to a rise in prices, notably for car and lorry owners, and airline passengers . The present Road Charging proposals are not intended to reduce car emissions, though they could be made to do so. Here are some comments.

UK's top scientist delivers stinging attack on Government's
environmental record

Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor - The Independent - 10 June 2005

Britain's most senior scientist, Lord May of Oxford, has lambasted the Government's environmental record, labelling some of its policies as "gutless" and saying it needed to do "a hell of a lot more".

The outspoken president of the Royal Society fired off a series of broadsides when commenting on the five-yearly "report card" on the state of the environment in England and Wales, published yesterday by the Environment Agency.

The report, which draws together the latest information on eight green sectors from air quality and waste management to wildlife and climate change, shows a mixed picture of improvement and deterioration, presented in measured terms.

But in an uncompromising speech at the launch of the report, Lord May hit out at the Government's recent green record in terms which will cause ministers to wince, not least because he knows what he is talking about, from the inside - he was the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser from 1995 to 2000.

Only two days ago, Lord May led an unprecedented call for the leaders of all the G8 rich countries to take action on climate change, from all the scientific academies of the G8 nations. He openly and fiercely criticised the Bush administration.

Yesterday he turned his attack on Britain. In uninhibited language, the Australian-born ecologist and mathematician was fiercely critical of official action - or lack of it - on waste, car pollution, fish stocks, protection of wildlife sites and climate change.

On waste, he characterised the Government's actions to increase recycling, as "great - but displacement activity".

What we ought to be doing, he said, was regulating the creation of waste in the first place, pointing out that some countries had already taken steps such as banning plastic bags.

He added: "What we have is a totally gutless avoidance of introducing legislation that tries to reverse the trend to ever-more wastefully elaborate and environmentally damaging over-packaging of stuff. And there's not much sign we're going to do much better."

On pollution from cars and lorries, he said: "Maybe things have got slightly better but there's still a hell of a lot more to be done, compared for example to certainly California and most parts of the US whom we're accustomed to slagging off whenever we walk about environmental things. We're much worse."

On depletion of fish stocks, he lashed out at the Government's failure to turn scientific advice on overfishing into policy, in the EU's council of fisheries ministers.

"In the EU, again a marked example of gutlessness, Britain backed off defending its more conservative and scientifically based position on setting fisheries quotas, and just folded its hand and left the table to a continuation of rapacious stupidity, in the interests of political comfort," he said.

He said that the continuing degradation of Britain's own wildlife sites, small though it was, undermined any criticism we might make of tropical countries allowing deforestation.

"We agonise over the loss of something of the order of 1 per cent of tropical forests each year, but the significant damage to our sites of special scientific interest in this small, hand-crafted wealthy island, is of the same magnitude," he said. "If we can't keep our own house in order, who are we to be lecturing tropical countries as they cut down their forests?"

On climate change, he welcomed the fact that Britain had made global warming one of the key policy issues for its forthcoming G8 presidency.

But he added: "We need to recognise that our own Government should be doing more in terms of its own domestic policy, if it's to turn its ambitions to be a world leader on climate change into a reality."


If we make global warming history we'll all be better off
The G8 summit must deliver on climate change as well as on poverty

The Guardian - 10 June 2005

He welcomes the actions and promises on "Making Poverty History" but regrets that as much publicity has not been given to climate change. He reminds us that those who will suffer most from both rising sea levels and more droughts will be the world's poor.

He criticises political leaders for failing to take action and emphasises that it cannot be left to the market to reduce the level of carbon emissions.

He comments that "Unfortunately there is a similar problem in the separate decision making of the departments along Whitehall. It may seem rational within its own objectives for the Department for Transport to multiply runways round Britain to match increased demand for air travel, but it makes no sense at all in the context of the government's commitment to cutting greenhouse gases, among which aviation fuel is the most damaging."

He goes on to say that Margaret Beckett has shown a commitment to tackling the issue but while DEFRA has the targets, the DTI has the power stations, the DfT the cars and the airlines and John Prescott has the domestic houses.

He wants to see this summer's review of climate change policies establish that they must be a priority for every department. He then lists all the likely consequences of failure to act and criticises President Bush for his attitude which comes from an administration "saturated in US oil interests".

He finishes with some words of praise for Tony Blair's efforts to persuade George Bush of the need for action, and for selecting climate change as one of his top policies both for his G8 and EU presidencies.


Expansion of Heathrow and Gatwick is condemned by planners as 'unnecessary and environmentally unsustainable'

Gaby Hinsliff and Mark Townsend - The Observer - 5 June 2005

Plans to expand enormously Heathrow and Gatwick airports will receive a major blow this week with the publication of a report which will describe them as "unnecessary" and a serious threat to the environment

Gridlock in the skies should be tackled by persuading people to take fewer flights, not building more runways if greenhouse gases are to be curbed, according to the findings of the public body in charge of planning for south-east England.

The report will increase pressure on the Transport Secretary, Alistair Darling, to abandon the airport expansion plans which include a third runway at Heathrow and major expansion at Stansted. Land near Gatwick is also being made available in case a second runway is needed when current curbs on building there expire.

"Our view is that it is environmentally unsustainable, inconsistent with international policy and they have got to change it if the Prime Minister is serious about climate change,' said Mike Gwilliam, director of transport and planning for SEERA, the South East England Regional Assembly."

"I know it's very difficult - people love their cheap flights and I use them myself sometimes - but that's not the point. I think our view is we can't go on with this sort of 'as much as you like on aviation' policy."

He did admit, though, that there was a possible case for expanding Stansted.

The report commissioned by SEERA from independent consultants will be welcomed by campaigners who have fought a ferocious legal battle to halt Heathrow's expansion, which Darling deems necessary to cater for the south-east's economic boom.

SEERA is also due to publish a report this week warning that a massive new housebuilding programme in the Home Counties, for up to half a million new households - essential to help first-time buyers as well as to fuel growth in the engine room of the British economy - is under threat unless the government finds up to £37.6 billion to fund better transport and public services.

This study calls for a national congestion charge to be paid by drivers not only in cities but suburbs and rural areas. This would help pay for more than £12.5bn of transport projects up to 2026. Without it, Gwilliam argues, SEERA would have to prune its housing plans - jeopardising the Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott's drive for more homes and potentially strangling growth.

Water bills will also have to rise to pay for new reservoirs. All of this means that people will have to make crucial changes in their lifestyles, with families using their cars less and throwing away less rubbish if newcomers are to be accommodated. "It is about us as individuals adapting, not suddenly abandoning growth or living in caves, but adapting," Gwilliam said.

The Treasury is completing its own review of the implications of the housebuilding programme. Senior officials are to be briefed tomorrow on its impact, ranging from transport to the demand for extra school places and GP surgeries. SEERA is expected to adopt plans this week to build an average of 28,900 new homes a year until 2026 across a swathe of the Home Counties from Brighton to Milton Keynes.

Gwilliam said there had been "pretty near universal concern" about infrastructure, and the cost would be more than could be met by the government. "The scale of what we really need to get ourselves up to the standards other Europeans are used to probably requires government to be thinking of additional sources of funding for transport. One is the possibility of a national congestion charge that could potentially raise a lot of revenue."

Forcing northern commuters to pay extra for southern services would risk triggering huge resentment. However, Gwilliam said the whole country would suffer if economic growth in the south-east collapsed. The region "contributes £18 billion per annum in net terms to the exchequer, of which quite a lot goes to the north-east."

Without investment in the infrastructure, he said, the assembly would be unable to build the right number of homes "and that would mean probably fewer jobs and less economic development".

He said it was impossible until the government finalised its own spending plans to calculate an exact shortfall, but a report from independent consultants Roger Tym and Partners - backed by the 10 councils in the south-east and seen by SEERA - estimated a gap of at least £8bn.

Final decisions on the broader South East Plan are not expected until as late as 2007.

Meanwhile, the airports owner BAA will publish details later this month of how the Heathrow expansion could go ahead without breaking new targets for carbon dioxide emissions to be introduced in 2010. The Department for Transport is studying air pollution around Heathrow to see whether the project can succeed.

John Stewart, of the Hacan group, which campaigns against Heathrow expansion, said it welcomed the report: "The local authorities are the people on the ground and they are actually saying that they don't want any more development. Their problem is not lack of development, it's over-development."

OUR COMMENT: Not in my back yard? All the arguments that apply to the south-east apply equally to our region.

Pat Dale


Runways to ruin

Readers' Letters - The Observer - 12 June 2005

The big issue: transport and the environment

Mark Gwilliam from the South East England Regional Assembly needs some basic lessons in climate change ('Cheap flights spark runway chaos', News, last week) if he thinks that airport expansion is any more acceptable at Stansted than at Heathrow or Gatwick.

While he rightly acknowledges that it is environmentally unsustainable to go ahead with new runways at the latter, shifting the problem on to Stansted or any other community is not going to 'save' his region from the effects of global warming, particularly when significant numbers of people often travel more than 100 miles by car to get to and from Stansted for their 'cheap' flights.

Carol Barbone
Campaign Director
Stop Stansted Expansion
Bishop's Stortford, Herts

Note: The provisional programme for the Public Examination into our own draft East of England Plan has now been published. It will commence on 14th September and those invited to attend and contribute in person have already been notified. They include representatives from all the Councils concerned, the major environmental groups including CPRE and Friends of the Earth, Stop Stansted Expansion and a variety of other local groups, businesses and official Agencies.

The provisional programme appears to be fair and well thought out. Anyone can attend - it will be held in the Maltings, Ely, and a library of documents will be established for all to consult (on appointment) at the Secretariat, Westbrook, Cambridge and anyone can make new submissions on any new points not covered in their original submissions. One of the issues will be the expansion of Stansted airport, both the full use of the existing runway (up to over 35 mppa, probably round 40) and the building of a second runway.

13 June 2005


Wake up call over new homes

Herts & Essex Observer - 9 June 2005

ESSEX and Herts could disappear into a black hole - if money for vital roads and affordable housing is not sorted out first.

A report has identified that the two counties, plus Beds, need £6billion worth of capital investment for infrastructure to meet the demands of thousands of extra homes proposed for the region up to 2021.

Millions of pounds will also be needed for community and leisure facilities - health, schools, libraries, play spaces, even cemeteries.

Herts and Essex and eight other authorities known as the South East Counties group commissioned planners and development economists Roger Tym and Partners to evaluate the costs and funding of growth. It does not include sums for the potential expansion of Stansted Airport, motorways or mainline rail upgrades.

The Tym report, published on Monday, concludes "our infrastructure is creaking" and vital questions about managing future development cannot be fudged. "This is a wake up call to policymakers," it says.

Herts, Essex and Beds need £18.5bn by 2021, of which £15.6bn is for transport and affordable housing.

Allowing for known or expected funding from the public purse and private sector (mostly developers' contributions), there is a £6.1bn "black hole", it concludes.

Saffron Walden MP Sir Alan Haselhurst said: "Nothing surprises me in all that. We all know there's no money for improving the infrastructure." Tym was putting figures on what was in unquantifiable form before.

"It gives us politicians, particularly those in local authorities, a stick to beat Government with," he added

Essex leader Lord Hanningfield said the council would continue to fight against development without infrastructure.

"We also have to look at the timing gap in funding." In particular, capital for transport links would be needed up front.

Essex highways supremo Rodney Bass said at present rates of government funding, it would take 100 years for its transport infrastructure to catch up.

Herts stategic planning leader Councillor Derrick Ashley said: "The headline figures, which could be underestimates, are extremely worrying." He added: "Public sector costs of £4bn in Herts would mean an average cost to the taxpayer per new house of over £50,000. We need to know how this money is to be made available."

Tell Herts & Essex Observer news your views on this issue. Just go to our message board and have your say.

11 June 2005


Night noise review at Stansted: further delays

Amanda Brown, Environment Correspondent - Press Association

The Government is to keep existing controls on night flights at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports, it announced today. The measures, aimed at easing the misery of householders whose sleep is disturbed by planes flying late at night, were unveiled in a consultation document by Aviation Minister Karen Buck.

The first stage of the consultation took place last year amid a clamour of protests from lobby groups urging a total ban on night flights into the west London airport, as well as into Gatwick in Sussex and Stansted in Essex.

The Government says it intends to maintain existing controls until October 2006. It also sets out detailed proposals for night restrictions covering the six-year period from the end of the summer season 2006 to the end of the summer season 2012.

Environmental and specific noise abatement objectives for each of the airports are also set out. Views will be sought on whether or not to extend the length of the night quota period and there will be specific proposals for the movements limits and noise quotas in each season.

Ms Buck said: "We have concluded that it is necessary to continue the existing controls for a further 12 months. This will give us time to consult widely over the next three months about the measures we are proposing and to consider the responses to the consultation before taking decisions about the next six-year period."

"I urge everyone with a view about night flights at the three London airports to read the consultation document and send us their comments."

"We have identified key questions to help people focus their responses and the document goes into some detail so that those who wish to can explore the issues in depth."

"We will consider all the responses very carefully and we will welcome views in as much detail as possible, especially from those most closely involved, to help the Government come to a fair and balanced decision on the package of controls."

"I look particularly to the industry to provide any evidence supporting the economic case for night flights.''

The consultation proposes that night flying restrictions should continue to be based on movements limits and the quota count classification system, as at present.

Among the questions asked is the possibility of extending the night quota period to cover the whole night from 11pm to 7am though the Government's provisionally preferred option - subject to consultation - is to retain the current six-and-a-half-hour night quota period.

On the basis of a six-and-a-half-hour night quota period, the consultation also sets out the following suggested noise abatement objectives at the airports:

* At Heathrow, to limit the six-and-a-half-hour 48-decibel scale continous sound level contour (for the winter and summer seasons combined) to 55 square kilometres by 2011-2012. In 2002-03 the contour implied by maximum usage of the limits would have been 55.7 square kilometres while the actual contour covered 53.9 square kilometres;

* At Gatwick, to limit the six-and-a-half-hour 48-decibel scale continous sound level contour (for the winter and summer seasons combined) to 40 square kilometres by 2011-2012, representing a reduction of about 3% compared with 2002-03;

* At Stansted, where the average quota per aircraft (in the limit and in actuality) is currently low to allow for expected growth in the average size of aircraft flying at night as the airport develops, while taking advantage of the gradual replacement of noisier by quieter aircraft, weight for weight.

The Government said it believes it will be possible to keep within the night quota period contour implied by the 2002-03 noise quota while allowing for growth, so it is proposed specifically to limit the six and a half hour 48-decibel scale continous sound level contour (for the winter and summer seasons combined) to 38 square kilometres by 2011-2012, comparable with what would be expected from maximum usage of the present noise quota.

Equivalent objectives are also suggested in the consultation document for the airports on the basis of an eight-hour night quota period.

Once in place, the new arrangements are expected to apply until the end of summer 2012. At present 16 night flights are permitted on a typical night at Heathrow.

Residents under the flight path won a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg in 2001 to halt the flights, but the decision was later overturned.

John Stewart, chairman of the campaign group Hacan Clear Skies said: "Residents under flight paths will settle for nothing less than a complete ban. All other options to minimise the impact of night flights are unacceptable and irrelevant."

"The UK Government has got to wake up to the fact that the problem is not going away until night flights are a thing of the past. It is much bigger than a few people in West London losing their sleep. During the last year there have been major demonstrations in Paris and Brussels over night flights.''

Interested parties will have until September 16 to respond to today's paper.

10 June 2005


Pleas for action on climate "lost in the Bush"

Environment Daily 1895 - 8 June 2005

UK prime minister Tony Blair failed to secure a shift in America's position on climate change policy on Tuesday following a meeting in Washington with US president George Bush. Just before the meeting, science academies from 11 countries attempted to put further pressure on Mr Bush by issuing a joint statement demanding "prompt action" on climate change.

The statement was signed by science academies from all member countries of the G8 group - Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK and the USA - plus those from Brazil, China and India. It calls on G8 nations to identify steps "that can be taken now" to achieve "substantial long-term reductions" in global greenhouse gas emissons, and to recognise that delaying will increase both risks and costs.

Mr Blair's travelled to Washington in preparation for the summit of G8 leaders he will host in Scotland in July. Along with African development, Britain has made climate change a priority for its G8 presidency, hoping to heal the divisions caused by America's 2001 decision to reject the Kyoto protocol and its underlying basis of greenhouse gas limits for rich countries and none for poor (ED 17/05/05 http://www.environmentdaily.com/articles/index.cfm?action=article&ref=18793).

At a joint press conference between the two men, Mr Bush stuck to a general commitment to developing "clean and efficient technologies" to "address global change". In direct contrast to the case being made by the UK and the G8 science academies he again insisted on the need to know more about global warming. He also said that nuclear power would be essential to any movement away from hydrocarbon energy.


Hope of Action, or more words?

8 June 2005

Alan Simpson (Nottingham, South) (Lab): May I wish the Prime Minister well in his attempts to make climate change the centrepiece of the G8 discussions? Will he take the opportunity to remind the leaders who fly in there that, despite all the laudable gains that are being made by countries in terms of reducing carbon emissions, the one Achilles' heel that we share is that they are being overwhelmed by the growth in carbon emissions from aviation fuel? Will he take the opportunity to say that we have to set global targets and global caps on aviation fuel growth, which will wipe out all the other gains that we would hopefully achieve?

The Prime Minister: First, may I thank my hon. Friend for his good wishes? Thus fortified, I will take on the negotiations. In respect of climate change, he is right to say that aviation is an important part of any overall deal, and I hope that at the G8 summit it is possible to put together a plan of action for change that includes not merely issues to do with some of the more traditional things, such as motor vehicles, but also in respect of aviation. It will obviously be a hard challenge, for reasons that my hon. Friend understands, but I think that it is important that we make progress on it.

10 June 2005


News Release (063) issued by the Government News Network - 9 June 2005

The Civil Aviation Bill is published today to fulfil a number of commitments contained in The Future of Air Transport White Paper.

If approved by Parliament, the Bill would:

* Clarify and strengthen the measures available to airports for dealing with aircraft noise. This includes a greater ability to introduce and enforce noise control measures beyond airport boundaries and to impose financial penalties if aircraft stray from routes designed to minimise noise.

* Clarify airports' ability to set charges which reflect local emissions from aircraft. The Secretary of State would also be given powers to direct them to levy such charges.

* Provide powers for a levy on the aviation industry to replenish the Air Travel Trust Fund which, along with the ATOL scheme, protects customers of failed tour operators.

The Bill would also:

* Authorise local authority airport companies to undertake specified activities - such as making their expertise available to other airports and taking part in joint ventures - which at present are outside their powers. It would allow local authority airports to be more competitive with privately owned airports.

* Enable the Civil Aviation Authority to recoup the costs of its Aviation Health Unit, which offers advice to the aviation industry and its customers and to Government, by a levy on the industry.

* Remove airlines' existing right of appeal to the Secretary of State in aviation route licensing cases decided by the Civil Aviation Authority. By eliminating a layer of bureaucracy and speeding up the process this will contribute to better regulation.

Secretary of State Alistair Darling said: "The Bill aims to implement commitments we made in our White Paper on the future of air transport on protecting the environment and safeguarding passenger interests.''

Information on the history of the Bill

1. The Bill will be introduced in Parliament for the first time today and is now subject to Parliamentary scrutiny.

2. The Future of Air Transport White Paper was published in December 2003. It sets out a measured and balanced approach providing a strategic framework for the development of air travel over the next 30 years.

3. Paragraph 3.14 of The Future of Air Transport states that:
"The Government intends that new legislation should be introduced, when Parliamentary time allows, to strengthen and clarify noise control powers both at larger commercial airports and at smaller aerodromes. There are two main measures:

* An amendment to section 78 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982 so that controls such as night restrictions could, subject to public consultation, be set on the basis of noise quotas alone, without a separate movements limit. This would mean that the primary control at an airport regulated by the Government could be related more directly to the noise nuisance, providing a more effective incentive for airlines to acquire, use and develop quieter aircraft. The amendment does not signal any intention to make the controls any less stringent than they are currently; and

* New powers to extend these controls so that they can relate to overall use of the airport, thereby enabling clearer environmental objectives to be set. At present, overall contour or similar controls may only be set voluntarily or through the planning system, which means that generally they must be directly related to a specific development, such as in recent years for the Manchester second runway and around the Heathrow fifth terminal."

Further details about these proposals, and other issues were covered in Control of Noise from Civil Aircraft, Department of Transport, December 2003.

4. Paragraph 3.31 of The Future of Air Transport states that:
"The Government intends to bring forward legislation, enabling the Secretary of State to require an emissions-related element to be included in landing charges at airports where there are local air quality problems.''

OUR COMMENT: This Bill has the potential to improve conditions round airports and also to encourage airlines to purchase aircraft with the lowest emissions, whether noise or fuel emissions. It will only be effective if the government actually requires airports to institute charges and insists that the levels at which charges are made are sufficient to make a difference. There also needs to be a level playing field so that airlines cannot shop around looking for cheaper airports.

Pat Dale

10 June 2005


At the moment fines are imposed when the present somewhat lenient statutory take-off levels are broken. If a much tougher scale of regular charges were to be planned there would only be improvement when new quieter aircraft were purchased.

Turbulent times for lords of the dance

Cambridge News - 8 June 2005

MORRIS Men have vowed to carry on dancing - despite aircraft noise overshadowing one of the major Morris festivals in Britain.

Every year Morris Men from all over the UK and abroad gather in the ancient town of Thaxted, near Saffron Walden, to dance in front of the mediaeval Guildhall.

But the village, which is directly under the London Stansted Airport flight path, has been forced to cope with increasing aircraft noise - and this year many visitors said it ruined the event, especially the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance, performed late at night in the main street in what should be complete silence.

Daniel Fox, a member of the Thaxted Morris Men, said: "We have been holding these meetings in the town since 1927. Morris Men come here from all over the world because Thaxted is their spiritual home."

"We were aware of the noise of the planes going over and our fiddle player had to delay the start of the Abbott's Bromley Horn Dance because of it."

"However, we shall battle on. We were here before even the present runway was built, so we take precedence as far as I'm concerned."

Spectator Caroline Scott, 27, of Thaxted, said: "I have noticed it getting worse for the last two or three years, but this time it was really terrible. Lots of people were sighing and looking up at the skies."

Sanjukta Ghosh, of Saffron Walden, said: "I have been coming for the last five years and I will definitely be here again next year. Thaxted is a very special place and the Morris festival is a wonderful event. However, just two years ago I did not notice any planes.

"This time it was ridiculous. Five planes flew over in just that one 10-minute dance. I know planes are not going to be redirected because of a dance, but it does show how the character and traditions of our local community are being destroyed by the airport."

Councillor Alan Dean, leader of Uttlesford District Council, urged people to write to him if aircraft noise was affecting their community, and said he would ensure their comments were considered at the time of any new planning application.

Stansted Airport had no comment to make.

10 June 2005


Frank Kane in Shanghai - The Observer - 5 June 2005

Rod Eddington, the departing chief executive of British Airways, believes the UK's transport infrastructure is 'near the point of no return' with regard to its negative impact on business.

The BA boss has been asked by the government to produce a strategic review of the UK's crumbling roads, rail and airports infrastructure. His report, which is expected to be delivered to the Transport Secretary Alistair Darling early next year, will be a no-holds-barred critique of the failure of successive governments to invest in transport.

Speaking in China's financial centre Shanghai yesterday, where BA last week launched a new service, Eddington said the failure was a blow to the ambition of British business to attract foreign investment into the UK. "There comes a point at which the lack of decent infrastructure is a deterrent to foreigners seeking to site businesses in Britain. We've nearly reached that point of no return," he said.

His report will be all the more authoritative coming at the end of his five-year reign at BA. He is generally reckoned to have turned the airline round in the face of the greatest crisis to have hit global aviation in the wake of the 11 September terrorist attacks in the US.

The government, which commissioned the review under the auspices of the Chancellor Gordon Brown and Darling, may not like what Eddington has to tell them. Transport has been a recurring problem for the Blair government, with road and rail services suffering a series of catastrophes that have undermined public confidence.

The air industry too has been bedevilled by the failure to complete projects such as the fifth terminal at Heathrow, which has taken 20 years to get under way. "In Shanghai they've built a new airport in a fraction of the time," said Eddington.

The new Chinese service will enable BA to compete with Virgin Atlantic on the route to Asia's fastest-growing city. A third carrier, Chinese Eastern, has also been allowed to fly the route under the deal with the Chinese communist government.

Martin Broughton, BA chairman, said the service would be profitable in three years' time. It is the first expansion of BA routes since the 'future size and shape' strategy was introduced to deal with BA's huge cost structure.

10 June 2005


New era dawns for the business-class only airline

Rachel Stevenson - The Independent - 9 June 2005

Executive travellers flying across the Atlantic will soon have a choice of business class-only carriers as another luxury airline gets off the ground.

A former director of strategy for British Airways, David Spurlock, is behind the latest venture, Eos, which has raised $185m (£100m) to begin flying business class-only from London to New York twice a day. Using Stansted and JFK airports, the inaugural flight is due to take off in September, after approval from aviation authorities.

Eos has a fleet of three Boeing 757 aircraft, whose 200-plus seats will be ripped out and replaced with beds for 48 travellers. Each customer will get 25 sq ft of personal space and Eos is promising 20 to 25 per cent lower prices than business class tickets with mainstream airline rivals.

Mr Spurlock said: "This is the third phase for aviation. We've had the big airlines that serve all routes to all people. Then we had the birth of low-cost carriers. We are launching a speciality airline dedicated to premium travel. It will be a similar experience to flying on a corporate jet but at a fraction of the price." He is promising customers faster check-in times and a loyalty programme.

Eos has raised its funds from a group of US private equity investors, including Golden Gate Capital, which has £2.5bn of assets. Mr Spurlock said the prospects for high-end corporate travel were strong, and growth in the sector could reach double digits.

The launch follows the announcement of another business class-only service from London to New York. Hamish Taylor, who was head of brand management at BA, is raising funds for the launch of Fly First. It plans to begin flying daily from Luton to Newark airport in November. Its two Boeing 757s will also be kitted out with 48 beds.

6 June 2005


Editorial - The Lancet - Vol 365 - 4 June 2005

Noise is a physical hazard so ubiquitous that its sudden absence can be unsettling. Our hearing perception evolved in a quieter era when a soft rustling in a forest could signal danger or potential gain. Today, our sensitive cochleae experience sounds at levels many times greater from amplified music, lawn machinery, highway traffic, and many other sources. But whilst noise might be annoying, is it bad for our health?

Clearly prolonged exposure to excessive noise levels in the workplace can cause permanent high frequency hearing loss. But less is known about the health risks of exposure to lower levels of noise in the environment.

Communities living near airports are increasingly concerned about the psychological and physical effects of aircraft noise. In today's Lancet, Stephen Stansfield and co-workers report a cross sectional study of over 2800 children aged 9-10 years, attending schools located near three major airports in Spain, the Netherlands, and the UK. The investigators assessed noise levels around the school from airport and traffic, and compared these levels with the results of cognitive performance testing and health questionnaires.

They found chronic exposure to aircraft noise had deleterious effects on reading comprehension and reported annoyance, even after adjusting for socio-economic differences between high-noise and low-noise schools.

Stansfield and co-workers' study adds to a developing literature about the negative effects of noise on learning. Schools located near airports have come under particular scrutiny. In one study 326 German schoolchildren matched for socio-economic status were followed up prospectively as the old Munich airport was replaced by a new international facility. Children attending schools near the old airport improved their reading scores and cognitive-memory performance when the airport shut down, while children going to school near the new airport experienced a decrease in testing scores.

How could environmental noise from aircraft be interfering with the children's acquisition of reading skills? Stansfield and co-workers postulate that children react to noise stress by "tuning out" unwanted noise stimuli, in the process also paying less attention to other inputs, such as a teacher's speech.

There are also other basic issues to consider. For children to adequately hear a teacher, the background noise in a classroom should be at least 10dB below the level of the teacher's voice. Children with hearing loss (a condition more common in lower socio-economic groups) require an even greater signal-to-noise ratio. Schools themselves might be poorly designed for hearing, with noise from ventilation and air-conditioning units or students themselves causing more interference than outdoor noise.

Noise could also have an impact on reading performance by negatively affecting health status. Children attending schools near airports may also return to homes located in aircraft flight-paths of noise, which might interfere with sleep patterns and consequently impair learning. Surveys of populations near airports report an association between exposure to aircraft noise and self-rated sleep disturbance, and use of over-the-counter sleep medication. Noise may act in concert with other environmental factors, such as crowding and housing quality, to increase catecholamine and cortisol markers of physiological stress.

Stansfield and co-workers findings might have important implications for health-care professionals. Is the rising incidence of attention deficit disorders related to environmental noise stress? Could environmental noise be contributing to the disease burden of sleep disorders and cardiovascular disease in the general population? In the health care setting, is excessive noise on hospital wards interfering with communication between staff and patients, and disrupting patients' sleep patterns? These are rich and relatively unexplored areas for further inquiry.

Whilst Stansfield and co-workers theorise that living in a noisy environment leads to "learned helplessness" there are encouraging signs that noise can be reduced and its ill-effects prevented. Switzerland has placed a night time curfew on aircraft departures, except for unusual circumstances. The American National Standards institute has published a standard for class room acoustics, stipulating that noise levels in an empty classroom should be less than 35db(A) and that reverberation and echoes should be controlled. In the future, such efforts to identify and reduce sources of potentially harmful environmental noise might become a routine part of environmental medicine.

OUR COMMENT: The full text of the paper is available on www.thelancet.com. We learn that the maximum noise level that was considered was just under 70dB and that annoyance began to appear at 50 dB.

The excellent commentary in the Lancet Leader collects the evidence already available that aircraft noise is not only more disturbing than traffic noise, but it does have a measurable effect on educational performance. The suggestion that preventive measures should be considered as a routine part of environmental medicine can be implemented now in Stansted as part of the application by BAA to expand. A Sustainability Appraisal and Environmental Impact Assessment are statutory, and a Health Impact Assessment virtually obligatory. Both should take this work of Stansfield and his co-workers into consideration as well as the German study carried out in a similar situation to Stansted, when considering the environmental effects of the old and the new Munich airport.

Is it desirable that any group of children should suffer for the doubtful economic benefits of an expanded airport, or even for the pleasure of those taking cheap flights. It should be possible to determine the environmental limits of all airports and keep them within a size that did not cause adverse effects on the health or educational development of the surrounding residents.

Pat Dale


Belgian night flights "breaching WHO limits"

Environment Daily 1892 - 3 June 2005

Aeroplanes taking off at Brussels's Zaventem airport expose almost a third of the city's million inhabitants to noise levels above World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended levels every night, according to a new report.

Around 300,000 people are subjected to noise levels of 45 decibels (db) or more between 11pm and 7am, says the study, done by the Brussels regional environment agency. Protests against night flights last year led to courier firm DHL deciding to close its Zaventem headquarters in 2008 (ED 21/10/04).

Regional environment minister Evelyne Huytebroeck told Belgian daily Le Soir the report proved night flight complaints in Brussels were more than "caprice".

6 June 2005


BA threatens 'nuclear option' of calling for break-up of BAA

Damian Reece, City Editor - The Independent - 3 June 2005

Martin Broughton, the chairman of British Airways, has joined rival airlines in threatening to call for a break-up of BAA if the airports operator pursues the idea of paying for a new runway and terminal at Stansted with levies on passengers at its Heathrow and Gatwick sites.

BAA is facing mounting criticism from numerous airlines for its suggestion that passengers at the two main airports serving the South-east should subsidise the proposed £4bn expansion of Stansted.

BA objects to the idea because it operates mainly out of Heathrow and Gatwick and does not want to subsidise the building of a new runway at Stansted, which will benefit the low cost airlines, such as Ryanair.

Mr Broughton, according to reports yesterday, said BA had the "nuclear option" of lending its weight to calls for a break-up of BAA, which owns all three southern airports.

A spokeswoman for BA said: "We haven't called for the immediate break-up of BAA, but if BAA pursues cross-subsidies to fund Stansted then we will have to look at all the options, including break-up. If that is the route they are going to go down, then we are not going to roll over. There will be opposition. This is a wake-up call."

BA's opposition to the idea of subsidies, and the threat of calling for a BAA break-up, follows similar comments on Tuesday from Michael O'Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair.

Although Ryanair is based at Stansted, Mr O'Leary believes BAA's proposed £4bn expenditure on the upgrade is inflated. Ryanair, as the airport's main operator, fears it will be hit with the lion's share of the costs. He believes the project should cost about £400m, in line with the expansion of Manchester Airport.

The airlines, usually bitter competitors, stand united against BAA's idea. They intend to appeal to the industry regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), whose rules make such subsidies illegal. But airline operators, such as Mr O'Leary, suspect the CAA may in future accept BAA's plans as part of a new regulatory regime due to be hammered out in an upcoming review. Mr O'Leary has said that he is willing to go to the Office of Fair Trading and the Competition Commission to stop BAA and will also use local planning procedures to block construction.

A spokesman for BAA said the company did not wish to get drawn into trading insults. But it has warned recently that the project to expand Stansted will be delayed if it has to be financed entirely by passengers using the Essex airport. The timetable for opening the second runway has slipped by a year, which means it will not be ready until 2013, it said. BAA has floated the idea of a levy on passengers at Heathrow and Gatwick of between 50p-£1 while also raising charges at Stansted.

4 June 2005


EU eyeing changes to emissions trading scheme

Jeff Mason - Reuters - 2 June 2005

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union's emissions trading system could get a makeover in the future as officials prepare for a planned review, with potential changes ranging from new gases to a new system of allocating pollution rights.

But policy makers at the EU's executive Commission have expressed caution about making too many alterations to the still young scheme, which is the key part of the 25-nation bloc's efforts to meet its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.

EU carbon dioxide (C02) emissions trade officially launched in January. The scheme sets limits on the amount of C02 power plants and other installations can emit and allows them to buy or sell allowances -- basically the right to pollute -- if they overshoot or undercut their targets.

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas told a climate change conference on Thursday the Commission would start its review shortly with a survey of participants in the scheme and would study adding new gases and sectors to it.

"I believe we should not have changes for changes sake, but consider the costs and benefits of the nature and timing of any rule change," Dimas said.

He said he believed the scheme could be fine-tuned without changing its legal framework. Adding new sectors or gases would require legal changes and take time.

The current scheme runs from 2005-2007. National allocation plans are due in mid-2006 for the next phase, which goes from 2008-2012. The Commission must approve the plans before they go into force. Only Greece's plan for the current phase has not yet been approved.

Aviation is one potential addition to the scheme, though Commission officials -- to the chagrin of environmental groups and even some airlines -- have said it would likely not make it in the scheme for the next phase, at least not at the beginning.


Currently member states decide -- with Commission approval -- how to allocate allowances to industry, based on how much C02 installations have emitted in the past.

Industry insiders call that system "grandfathering" and some have called on the Commission to change the process to one where rights are auctioned off or decided based on efficiency or "benchmarking" standards, rather than previous emission records.

"We need to have a serious look at the way we allocate," Dimas said, adding he hoped member states would steer away from a tendency to want to interfere in the market.

"I believe the guiding philosophy for the second allocation plans should be simplicity rather than complexity and hands-off rather than special rules."

Currently the scheme covers about 12,000 installations in energy-intensive industries like oil refineries, steel plants and cement and paper factories.

Removing some of those would be one way of simplifying the system without drastically affecting the amount of emissions covered, one expert told Reuters.

"We should kick all the small installations out of the system," said Leonhard Birnbaum of consultancy McKinsey, which is conducting a review of the scheme for the Commission.

He estimated 80 percent of the installations accounted for only about 20 percent of emissions covered by the scheme.


Environment Daily 1890 - 1 June 2005

Aggressive measures to curb greenhouse gas releases from the aviation sector are vital if the EU is to achieve the long-term cuts in climate emissions proposed by environment ministers, according to Friends of the Earth.

New figures produced for the group by the UK's Tyndall centre for climate change research calculated the effect of pursuing 60-80% emission cuts recommended by ministers earlier this year while leaving the air transport sector's emissions unregulated. Under this unlikely scenario, by 2050 aviation would consume the EU's entire "carbon budget".

FoE said the findings showed that a failure to act soon on aviation emissions would make it "politically impossible" to achieve the deep cuts necessary to stave off climate change.

The release of the report was timed to coincide with a conference on aviation and climate held as part of the European Commission's Green Week event. On Tuesday environment commissioner Stavros Dimas said incorporating aviation into emission trading was the most promising option to tackle the sector's climate impacts (ED 31/05/05) Environmentalists are not against the move but say it is insufficient.


Environment Daily 1891 - 2 June 2005

Plans to revise and consolidate the EU's air quality framework law and its first three daughter directives will be the only immediate legislative proposals to emerge from a major new EU air pollution strategy due later this month, it has been revealed. The strategy is currently undergoing a final round of internal consultation within the European Commission.

Commission official Matti Vainio told a conference at the Green Week event in Brussels on Wednesday that the Clean air for Europe (Cafe) programme's first legal proposal would add to the European Commission's "better regulation" drive.

Merging the four existing laws would cut down on bureaucracy and paperwork, Mr Vainio said. Air quality limit values contained in the laws will not change. The fourth air quality daughter directive, which entered force only this year, is to be left out of the merger for now.

The package might introduce controls on fine particulate matter (PM2.5), however, despite uncertainties voiced by the EU's chief environmental science committee, Scher (ED 30/03/05) "Waiting won't take the problem away," Mr Vainio said. Cafe would probably advocate a two-phase strategy - first by requiring better monitoring of PM2.5 and then by setting air quality limits.

But the most controversial part of the Cafe package will be the ambition level that the Commission chooses to propose for reducing levels of five key air pollutants - sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, ammonia and PM2.5 - by 2020.

The reduction objectives will not be formulated as binding targets, but the degree of ambition will be important since it will determine the range of targets set in future binding legislation - such as a revision of the national emission ceilings (NEC) directive which is due to culminate in draft proposals next year.

In the Cafe paper the Commission will set out three scenarios - A, B and C - which the EU might aim to achieve. Scenario A is the least ambitious, but would still yield substantial cuts in the five pollutants. The annual cost to the EU of meeting this scenario would amount to €5.9bn. The health benefits are put at a minimum of €37bn.

Meanwhile the most ambitious scenario - C - would generate €14.9bn costs and at least in €49bn health benefits. For all scenarios there would be additional, unquantified improvements in the health of ecosystems. The Commission has calculated that implementing any of the scenarios the costs would cause changes in economic and employment indices of only fractions of percentage points.

Mr Vainio suggested there might be a "sweet spot" between the B and C scenarios which would be acceptable to EU legislators. The environment directorate is known to be arguing internally to for an ambition level close to the C scenario.

Panellists at the conference gave a foretaste of the political lines that will be drawn once the Cafe proposals emerge. Kirsten Meyer of environmental coalition the EEB said the Commission's cost-benefit analysis gave a clear justification for aiming well beyond the C scenario. But Peter Tjan of oil producers' trade body Europia said substantial benefits could be garnered at much lower cost by aiming below the A scenario. Some assumptions and models used to calculate the scenarios could be wrong, he said.

OUR COMMENT: Note the intention to include the smallest particles (PM2.5) in any new legislation - BAA will need to rethink their refusal to include PM2.5 in their assessment programme for Stansted.

Pat Dale

2 June 2005


Jenny Oliveira - The Reporter - 26 May 2005

Airport bosses have admitted that their single runway can easily cope with increasing demand for another 8 years. The admission came as BAA Stansted's managing director Terry Morgan officially confirmed that they could not meet the 2011-2012 government deadline for having a second runway in use.

He told a meeting of the Stansted Airport Consultative Committee last week that the earliest BAA could lodge a planning application was 2007.

The reason for the delay on the original schedule set down by the transport minister Alistair Darling in the Aviation White Paper to have the second runway in operation by 2012 was that "it is taking longer than we though to get the road and rail infrastructure right".

Essex County Council planning spokesman, Councillor Peter Martin, extended the delay even further. After project manager Alistair McDermid said he believed the year 2013 was "very challenging" though a realistic date to open the second runway, an unsurprised Cllr Martin said: "With these delays it is clearly sensible to look again at relative timetables."

"Latest passenger forecasts for Stansted show that even by 2014 the single runway will continue to provide adequate capacity."

Mr McDermid assured the committee: "The need for a second runway remains, but unfortunately work will take a little longer. There is a risk it will go back further in time because of the planning process."

Councillor Martin said: "This news will come as no surprise to those of us who have been invoved in the planning issues around Stansted."

The White Paper said that because of problems at Heathrow, which may take time to resolve, another runway at Stansted should be developed first. News of the delay was welcomed by Peter Sanders, chairman of the pressure group Stop Stansted Expansion.

OUR COMMENT: We suggest that it will never be possible to get the road and rail infrastructure right for traffic generated by a second runway. Present congestion on road and rail at peak times needs attention first. Increaing capacity to meet the needs of up to 80 mppa, as well as John Prescott's extra houses would involve a major expansion of the M11 and the One Railway into Liverpool Street. Who is going to pay for it?

Pat Dale


The Saffron Walden Weekly News put a slightly different spin
on the announcement of the new delay

Pam Jenner - 26 May 2005

Stansted Airport's runway is full to capacity at peak times and a second runway is needed as soon as possible, says airport manager Terry Morgan. He was speaking following the announcement last week that the second runway could be delayed by a year to 2013 because of the need to get road, rail and planning strategies in place.

Mr Morgan denied claims by Stop Stansted Expansion that the slow down in growth and the airport's dependence on low cost airlines would lead to funding difficulties for a second runway.

He said: "We are still saying that we will reach our current runway capacity of 35 mppa by 2014 or 2015".

He said that personally he would like the runway to be built before 2013 and added: "The need for a second runway is not disappearing into the future. It is needed as soon as it can possibly be done. We are still growing but we always knew we could not keep growing at 20% per annum as we did in the late 1990s. We always expected that the growth rate would slow down to 4 or 5% which is the normal growth rate for the industry. Part of the reason for the slowing down is that we are filling up and capacity is now full at peak times"…

The report continues with more.


Sinead Holland - Herts & Essex Observer - 26 May 2005

Airport bosses have admitted plans for a second runway at Stansted could still hit further hitches. But the top brass denied that plans would be grounded by threats to pull out by their two biggest customers, Ryanair and easyJet. Instead, it was the "vagaries" of the planning system it feared most.

The report continues to explain the difficulties with providing infrastructure but Terry Morgan is at pains to make it clear that while BAA was happy to pay for work on the infrastructure associated with its development, it should not pay for the extra provision associated with the East of England draft Regional Plan.

OUR COMMENT: Has everyone forgotten that we do have a Planning System in force? Both plans for expansion of the present runway traffic and for a second runway have to satisfy the present Planning Law and that includes a Sustainability Appraisal. BAA should remember that the Aviation White Paper is not an Act of Parliament. Neither is a policy of continued air traffic expansion.

Pat Dale


Unfair landing fees provoke duo to air rage

Saffron Walden Reporter - 26 May 2005

Europe's top two low-cost airlines have joined forces to condemn Stansted Airport's four billion pound second runway plans.

Ryanair and easyJet, which account for nearly three quarters of all flights from the airport, were responding to BAA's announcement that aircraft landing charges will have to go up between 50p and one pound a time, and that Heathrow and Gatwick passengers would pay a surcharge to cover the costs.

EasyJet chief operating officer Ed Winter urged the Civil Aviation Authority to ensure that BAA built according to what its users could afford.

"Before sensible low airport charges attracted the likes of easyJet to Stansted, it was little more than a white elephant in an Essex field with a single runway" he said. "BAA seems determined to make it a white elephant in an Essex field with two runways."

And David O'Brien, director of operations for Ryanair said: "The proposals by the BAA airport monopoly to blow 4 billion pounds on a second runway is just the latest example of the gold-plating rip-off of consumers practised by the BAA monopoly. The ordinary passengers should not be forced to pay higher fares just to finance another BAA Taj Mahal."

But speaking at a press conference last Thursday, Terry Morgan, managing director of Stansted Airport was upbeat. "We are confident that by 2014-2015 the London area will need another runway, otherwise the economy could be compromised."

"We shall soon know what we can charge the airlines through regulatory process by 2006 and know what planning permissions we have".

2 June 2005


Revealed: The real cost of air travel

Michael McCarthy, Marie Woolf and Michael Harrison - The Independent - 28 May 2005

It might be cheap, but it's going to cost the earth. The cut-price airline ticket is fuelling a boom that will make countering global warming impossible.

The tens of thousands of Britons jetting off on cheap flights this weekend have been given graphic reminders by leading green groups that the huge surge in mass air travel is becoming one of the biggest causes of climate change.

Unless the boom in cheap flights is halted, say Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, Britain and other countries will simply not be able to meet targets for cutting back on the emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) that are causing the atmosphere to warm, with potentially disastrous consequences.

In spelling out what is for most people - and for many politicians - a very uncomfortable truth, they are echoing the warnings of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution and the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee.

The scientists of the former and the MPs of the latter have set out in detail how the soaring growth in CO2 emissions from aircraft that the cheap flights bonanza is promoting will do terrible damage to the atmosphere and make a nonsense of global warming targets, such as Britain's stated aim of cutting CO2 emissions by 60 per cent by 2050.

British emissions of C02 from aircraft, expressed in millions of tons of carbon, shot up from 4.6 million tons in 1990 to 8.8 million tons in 2000. But based on predicted air passenger transport growth figures - from 180 million passengers per year today to 476 million passengers per year by 2030 - they are expected to rise to 17.7 million tons in 2030.

Aircraft emissions that go directly into the stratosphere have more than twice the global warming effect of emissions from cars and power stations at ground level and, based on the Government's own calculations, the effect of the 2030 emissions will be equivalent to 44.3 million tons of carbon - 45 per cent of Britain's expected emissions total at that date.

That growth alone, the environmental audit committee says, will make Britain's 60 per cent CO2 reduction target "meaningless and unachievable". The clash of interests cannot be ducked any more, say the green groups. "The convenience we enjoy in covering huge distances in a short time is one of the fast-growing threats to life on earth," said Tony Juniper, the executive director of Friends of the Earth.

"Aviation is an increasing source of climate-changing pollution and we must take steps to curb it now. Planes pump out eight times more carbon dioxide per passenger mile than a train. A return flight to Australia will release as much carbon dioxide as all the heating, light and cooking for a house for a year."

Blake Lee-Harwood, campaigns director for Greenpeace, said: "The simple fact is the boom in cheap air travel cannot be reconciled with the survival of those things we most value about the planet, and will ultimately kill millions of people.

"The only way to stop the problem is to reduce our flying. We just have to accept public transport and highly efficient cars are the only kinds of routine transport we can sensibly use, and air travel is just for special occasions. We may not like that hard truth but we don't have a choice."

The green groups feel the only solution is to cut back on demand by forcing prices up, especially as commercial aviation has long benefited from a very easy tax regime. In other words, people will have to be "priced off planes" and the cheap flights bonanza will have to end.

Bizarrely, the Government is facing in two directions at once. In the 2003 energy White Paper, it committed itself to tackling climate change and announced its 60 per cent CO2 target. But in the aviation White Paper later that year, it promised to facilitate the expected mass increase in air traffic, if necessary by providing several new runways to cope with increased demand.

There is no sign of the two positions being reconciled by Tony Blair. Yesterday, it appeared the leaders of the G8 group of nations, set to put climate change at the top of the agenda at this summer's G8 meeting in Scotland which Tony Blair will chair, are also flunking the issue. A leaked draft of a climate change communiqué showed they were promising more research into the effects of aircraft emissions, but shying away from any commitment to raise ticket prices.

One of the leading advocates of an emissions trading scheme for airlines is among a group of UK business leaders who wrote to Tony Blair yesterday calling for a "step change" in efforts to tackle climate change. Mike Clasper, the chief executive of BAA, has been the aviation industry's most outspoken supporter of the idea of forcing airlines to pay for excessive carbon emissions, even though it could be financially damaging to many of his customers.

Mr Clasper and 12 other senior businessmen say companies are deterred from investing in low carbon technologies because of the lack of long-term government policies and concern that their international competitiveness will be harmed.

Other signatories to the letter include the chairman of HSBC bank, Sir John Bond, the chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, Sir Stuart Hampson and the chief executive of Scottish Power, Ian Russell.

The facts about flying

* Air travel produces 19 times the greenhouse gas emissions of trains; and 190 times that of a ship.

* Aviation could contribute 15 per cent of greenhouse gases each year if unchecked.

* Greenhouse gas emissions caused by UK air travel have doubled in the past 13 years, from 20.1m tons in 1990 to 39.5m tons in 2004.

* During the same period emissions from UK cars rose by 8m tons, to 67.8m tons.

* One return flight to Florida produces the equivalent CO2 of a year's average motoring.

* Emissions at altitude have 2.7 times the environmental impact of those on the ground.

* Air travel is growing at UK airports at an average of 4.25 per cent. In 1970, 32 million flew from UK airports; in 2002, 189 million. By 2030 some 500 million passengers may pass through UK airports.

* Cargo transportation is growing by 7 per cent a year. In 1970, 580,000 tons of freight were moved by plane; in 2002, 2.2 million tons. It is forecast to reach 5 million tons in 2010.

* 50 per cent of the UK population flew at least once in 2001.

* Flying 1kg of asparagus from California to the UK uses 900 times more energy than the home-grown equivalent.

2 June 2005


Herts & Essex Observer - 26 May 2005

Air Quality around Stansted airport is to be monitored by a panel of six "internationally distinguished" experts. The details of the ongoing scientific scrutiny were announced by managing director Terry Morgan on Friday.

Addressing the airport's first air quality seminar, he said that it was committed to understanding and addressing the effects of its business so had voluntarily commissioned a Health Impact Assessment study.

BAA has set it up in partnership with Essex Strategic Health Authority. It will run alongside an "independent topic working group "of local experts who will review the findings.

Mr Morgan said: "Assessments by the local authority of air quality around the airport show that standards are well within objectives set by the government and EU. These results are supported by independent verification."

He pledged to control emissions. "It is in our interest and that of thr local community that the relevant people work together to keep the air quality as good as it is now and I hope the seminar will act as a catalyst for this."

Nearly 70 representatives of local government, environmental groups and NHS Trusts were invited. It also considered global climate change.

OUR COMMENT: BAA are to be congratulated on arranging this seminar which provided an excellent resume of the importance of good air quality, the legislation and how BAA consultants intended to measure and calculate the concentrations of harmful emissions, from both vehicles and aircraft as well as the airport buildings, in the air around Stansted airport.

However, information was somewhat scarce on actual measurements made by BAA itself - when BAA received permission to expand to 25 mppa one of the conditions was that a comprehensive monitoring system would be established for nitrogen dioxide, one of the more irritating emissions liable to affect heart and lung sufferers. We were shown only six results of satisfactory annual means measured during the last 6 months at 5 different points on the airport near the boundary. Five of these were from diffusion tubes which, it was claimed, were regularly recording values that were too high in comparison with the more accurate real time monitoring machine at High House.

While it is true that these tubes are not so accurate the degree of inaccuracy, whether up or down, needs to be carefully assessed together with the processing laboratory. As the assumed reduction in levels made a significant difference in the results we felt that more measurements, more information on the exact position of the tubes and more explanations of the validity of the corrections will be essential if a full and relaiable survey of the airport is to be carried out. It has to be remembered that initial predictions for 25 mppa forecast that there would be exceedances. Stansted has never had the attention that Heathrow has had and has yet to produce a similar comprehensive policy and monitoring plan.

It must also be remembered that the Health Impact Assessment is intended to investigate as to whether any of the other adverse environmental effects of an airport - noise, increased traffic and urbanisation, odour and kerosene and nitrogen deposition, as well as air quality, have affected the health, quality of life, and educational attainments of local residents.

Pat Dale

2 June 2005


In spite of continued concerns over the danger of aggravating climate change if aviation expands as rapidly as the White Paper proposes a new industry group is now pressurising the government to further expand Heathrow

Pro-expansion group to intensify Heathrow runway conflict

Kevin Done, Aerospace Correspondent - Financial Times - 23 May 2005

The conflict over long-term plans to build a third runway at Heathrow, already the world's busiest international airport, will intensify today with the launch of a pro-expansion lobby group, Future Heathrow.

The campaign is to be led by Clive Soley, the former west London Labour MP and a former chairman of the parliamentary Labour party, who stepped down at the general election and was awarded a peerage a few days later.

Its launch follows doubts last week over the economic case for building a second runway at London Stansted airport: the government's favoured first move for expanding airport capacity in the highly congested south-east of England.

The lobby group has been formed by UK and foreign airlines operating at Heathrow including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and BMI British Midland, and business and labour groups including the CBI, the London Chamber of Commerce, three leading trades unions - Amicus, the GMB and the TGWU - as well as the TUC.

The Future Heathrow initiative was attacked yesterday by environmental and local residents groups, which disputed that without a third runway and a sixth terminal the future of the airport was threatened by continental European hubs led by Paris Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt.

The government white paper on aviation policy, published in December 2003, called for the building of a third runway at Heathrow between 2015 and 2020, but only if it could meet tough environmental conditions: in particular one on air quality, which will become mandatory under a European directive that comes into force in 2010.

However, the Heathrow area already fails to meet the 2010 air quality targets; much of the pollution is caused by surface transport using the nearby M25 and M4 motorways. Richard Dyer of Friends of the Earth said that by leading the campaign, Lord Soley had "abandoned his commitment to a more sustainable aviation policy and the health interests of his former constituents".

"We simply cannot allow any new runways in Europe if we are serious about tackling climate change."


Press Release issued by AirportWatch - 21 May 2005

Airport communities at Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted have reaffirmed their united opposition to extra runways at these and other UK airports as proposed in the Air Transport White Paper issued almost 18 months ago.

The announcement comes on the eve of the launch of the pro-expansion industry initiative, Future Heathrow‚ on Monday 23 May and follows a week in which the aviation industry has shown itself to be hopelessly divided over developing air transport capacity in the south east. There is deep conflict within the industry over whether Stansted or Heathrow should be developed as the first new runway for over 50 years and as well as how any such project should be funded.

Speaking under the banner of AirportWatch on behalf of the campagn groups from each of the three main south east airports, the umbrella group's chairman John Stewart said: "Having tried and failed to divide the community groups and environmental organizations opposed to major airport expansion, BAA is now seeking to apply its strong-arm tactics to the aviation industry, regulator and Government to ensure it can keep all its options open."

"We have said all along that the environmental and social impacts of expansion at Stansted, Heathrow or (potentially) Gatwick would be wholly unacceptable to all AirportWatch members, not least because of the major impact it would have in terms of exacerbating climate change problems."

Aviation is the fastest growing source of global warming emissions which are responsible for the problem of climate change. AirportWatch argues that the removal of aviation's wholesale tax exemptions which result in the underpricing of air travel and artificially high demand would mean that no new runways would be needed anywhere in the UK. [Ref: The Hidden Cost of Flying published by the Aviation Environment Federation, February 2003]

Information provided by Airport Watch

At present there is no tax on aviation fuel which costs the airlines only a quarter of what is paid by motorists. Additionally, no VAT is paid on aviation transactions. All this means that each year the aviation industry in the UK receives tax concessions of around £9 billion [Ref: The Hidden Cost of Flying]. The figure across the European Union in 1999 was put at over £20 billion [Ref: The Myths of Flying by Van de Pol, published by Friends of the Earth Netherlands, 1999].

Forecasts produced by the Department for Transport show that if the aviation industry paid VAT on all its transactions and if a tax was gradually imposed on aviation fuel so that by 2025 airlines paid the same rate for fuel as motorists paid for petrol, the fall in UK air fares would have been halted and demand reduced to the extent that no new airport capacity would have been required over the next 30 years..


Editorial Comment - Financial Times - 20 May 2005

Sorting out the future of London's congested airports seems like one long headache. When the government finally produced some priorities in its white paper 18 months ago, it decided that Stansted should get the first new runway in the London area, Heathrow the second and possibly Gatwick the third. However, even the first part of this plan is now up in the air because BAA, operator of all three airports, has produced financial proposals for the Stansted expansion that have united all the airlines operating in the London region against it.

It will now fall to the Civil Aviation Authority, the industry regulator, to try to get the travelling public the better infrastructure it wants, without bending the principles of fair treatment among the airlines and of market forces too much out of shape.

BAA has warned that its £4bn expansion of Stansted would be delayed by "several years" after the planned completion date of 2013, unless it more than doubles landing charges at Stansted to £7-8 per passenger and also levies up to an extra £1 on every traveller using Heathrow and Gatwick.

This has enraged Stansted's two dominant users, EasyJet and Ryanair. The two low-cost carriers complain that BAA's plan to build what they call "a Taj Mahal" in the Essex countryside is pointlessly extravagant for their needs. They claim BAA's plan for a big terminal expansion amounts to goldplating. But from a public interest viewpoint, it has to be said that Stansted is not their airport for ever and a day.

While EasyJet and Ryanair might be happy with just a cattle shed to go with a new runway, others in the future might not be. BAA should certainly exercise tight cost control, but it is surely right to give Stansted the decent infrastructure that projects in this country so often lack.

BAA will find it harder to rebut the charge of unfairness levelled by those airlines using Heathrow and Gatwick. They complain they will be asked to cross-subsidise Stansted, while the latter airport is, for instance, doing nothing to fund Heathrow's new Terminal 5. In theory, it would be better if each airport stood on its own financial feet. This would enable really congested airports such as Heathrow and Gatwick to charge higher landing fees and so fund expansion.

But there is at present an environmental problem with adding another runway to Heathrow and a legal one to doing the same at Gatwick. So, even though the CAA is on record as preferring the "stand alone" approach to airport pricing and will undoubtedly be sympathetic to the cross-subsidy complaint, the regulator will have to confront the fact that extending Stansted is the only practical immediate option.

Users of London's airports will obviously not welcome high landing charges. But they should remember BAA's charges are currently lower than those of most European airports, and that other factors, such as oil prices, are driving air fares up faster.


Letters Page - Financial Times - 26 May 2005

Clive Soley, Campaign Director, Future Heathrow, Hounslow, Middlesex TW6 1BU

From Mr Clive Soley

Sir, Your editorial writer has been poorly advised in arguing that expansion of Stansted is "the only practical immediate option" for increasing airport capacity in the London area ("Air fairness", May 20 - subscription required).

The government's white paper said 18 months ago that a new short runway should be built at Heathrow subject to environmental conditions being met. A great deal of progress has been made since and, though there is still work to do, there are good grounds for believing that the necessary improvements in air quality and noise reduction can be achieved.

Work has also advanced on the feasibility of "mixed mode" runway operation at Heathrow, which could bring a significant capacity improvement, cutting delays and emissions from as early as 2007.

The white paper suggested that the new Heathrow runway could open as early as 2015. This would be only two years later than a second Stansted runway could become operational. As the Treasury knows, expansion of Heathrow involves no funding uncertainties and offers by far the greatest benefits to the whole UK economy of any airport development.


Leisure airlines oppose Gatwick cross subsidy

Statement by the Charter Airline Group of the UK

Thomsonfly, Thomas Cook, First Choice, MyTravel and Monarch Airlines have reacted angrily to BAA's announcement that it plans to raise funds to build the proposed new runway at Stansted by cross subsidisation from passengers at Gatwick and Heathrow.

Kevin Hatton, MD of Thomsonfly said: "The announcement by BAA is against the current CAA position on cross subsidy and we would be outraged if our passengers at Gatwick who have no interest in Stansted are forced to pay for a £4bn gold plated development that has no airline support at all!"

The Charter Airline Group has serious concerns over the ability of BAA to fund the development and maintains Stansted should only be developed if the users are willing to pay for it.

In light of BAA's announcement that they intend to raise the money to fund Stansted's second runway development by charging £1 to all passengers travelling through Gatwick and Heathrow, the charter airlines will now be adding their voices to the call for the Civil Aviation Authority to stand by its statement to ensure Stansted's development should be financially self supporting and should only encompass what it's users are willing to pay for.

Peter Brown Chairman of the Charter Airline Group added: "This is yet another abuse of BAA's monopoly position of the London airports and adds to the growing number of reasons why the BAA should be broken up. Until the CAA can ensure BAA can fund Stansted though current users charges we believe work should continue on the case for a third runway at Heathrow and a second runway at Gatwick."

Information: The Charter Airline Group of airlines. The UK (CAG) represents the UK's leading leisure airlines, First Choice Airways, Monarch Airlines, MyTravel Airways, Thomas Cook Airlines and Thomsonfly.com (formally Br itannia Airways). These airlines operate from 26 different UK airports to over 85 destinations within the EU in addition to a wide range of destinations outside the EU, carrying over 32 million passengers per year.

2 June 2005


Labour is failing to meet targets

Paul Brown, Environment Correspondent - The Guardian - 27 May 2005

Official figures showing sharp increases in gases responsible for climate change from air and freight transport were removed from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) report on the environment last week after pressure from the Department for Transport.

In a week when Tony Blair was insisting the issue of climate change was "very, very critical" and Margaret Beckett, the environment secretary, claimed the UK was a world leader in reducing emissions, official statistics would have shown an 85% increase in pollutants from the airline industry and 59% for freight transport since 1990. Instead, the announcement was withdrawn and another substituted which did not mention transport emissions at all.

ONS officials were said to have been "livid" at the transport department's intervention. A footnote on all ONS releases says: "National Statistics are produced... free from any political interference."

The original unpublished release has been passed to the Guardian. Headlined "Rise in greenhouse gas emissions from transport", it says that while overall emissions dropped 10% between 1990 and 2002, the increase from the transport sector as a whole was 50%. The largest increase of 85% was from air transport, and even this figure would have risen to over 100% but for the slump in air travel as a result of the attacks on the World Trade Centre, the report said. The road freight industry has also increased emissions by 59%, according to the statistics.

Both sets of figures reveal the government's most vulnerable areas on climate change policy. It is being heavily criticised by environment groups for its proposed building of new runways, expansion of regional airports and failure to shift sufficient freight onto the railways.

The draft of the report containing the transport emissions figures were sent for comment to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the transport department. Senior officials at the environment department described the rapidly rising emissions "as somewhat sensitive" and prepared a briefing paper for ministers to field expected hostile questions by journalists. Officials at the Department for Transport actively attempted to stop publication of the release.

Perry Francis, the statistician who compiled the figures at the ONS, said yesterday that transport department officials objected to the form in which the figures were presented. "I was told the Department for Transport did not think it was appropriate to publish them, they spoke to me several times, and in the end I withdraw the report and substituted another which did not mention transport at all."

Mr Francis added: "I would not say I was subject to improper pressure. I just decided I would withdraw it."

His new report published last Friday received no press coverage. However, he has placed the statistics on the ONS website "for the record."

Yesterday the Department for Transport denied its intervention had been made for political reasons, and stressed there was no ministerial involvement. A spokesman said there had been differences between the way the department compiled its statistics, and the ONS methods. However, there was no suggestion that the ONS figures were inaccurate.

Mr Blair, writing in this month's edition of the Parliamentary Monitor, said: "Climate change is probably, in the long term, the single most important issue we face as a global community - the issue is now very, very, critical indeed."

Margaret Beckett, the environment secretary, made a statement on May 18, two days before the proposed ONS report was withdrawn, that an attack by the Liberal Democrat leader, Charles Kennedy, on the UK's climate change record was "absurd", adding: "Tony Blair is renowned and respected across the world for his leadership on international climate change."

OUR COMMENT: History repeats itself!

Pat Dale

2 June 2005


easyJet chief says green campaigners have a point

Terry Macalister - The Guardian - 25 May 2005

The no-frills carrier easyJet yesterday accepted there was legitimate public concern about the impact of flying on climate change and said it would welcome a dialogue with green campaigners.

The chief executive, Ray Webster, said he would not object to a fuel tax linked to carbon emissions being imposed as long as it was fair and did not "price the industry out of existence". His comments come amid mounting frustration among environmental activists that jet fuel is not taxed in the way that petrol is for road vehicles. There has been speculation that airlines could be targeted for protests by green groups, which last week disrupted production at vehicle manufacturer Land Rover.

"In principle we agree with the concern [about climate change] and I personally - as a New Zealander - certainly do. But this issue is best tackled by working together rather than confrontation," said Mr Webster.

Travellers already pay air passenger duty of £5 a ticket but was not related to the fare or the fuel used, said easyJet. It would be fairer to align any taxes with a specific objective, such as cutting greenhouse gases, said Mr Webster.

The airline boss said easyJet should be one of the last to be criticised when it came to harming the environment. "By the end of 2006 we will have one of the youngest fleets in the world with an average of two years old. Very modern aircraft are more efficient and cause less pollution than the older ones operated by many traditional carriers," he said.

But Mr Webster pointed out that airlines were not best-placed to take any extra tax because few were making profits unlike airport operators, such as BAA, which were acting as virtual monopolies.

He was speaking after easyJet reported increased pre-tax losses of £22m, up from a deficit of £19m in the first half of 2004, despite revenues growing 26% to £553m. Shares in the firm slumped 5% to 236p as the company expressed it was comfortable with analysts' full-year profit forecasts of between £50m and £55m, which will be lower than 2004.

The company launched 40 routes and raised passenger numbers by 25% in the six months to March but was undermined by rising competition and high fuel prices.

20 May 2005


Airlines warn they will leave over surcharge plan to fund runway

Andrew Clark, Transport Correspondent - The Guardian - 19 May 2005

The government's ambition of turning Stansted airport into one of Europe's biggest international hubs has been thrown into doubt by a bitter dispute about who will foot the bill for a £4bn expansion programme.

The transport secretary, Alistair Darling, earmarked Stansted as the preferred site for a new runway to relieve congestion at Britain's overstretched airports in a white paper 18 months ago.

Mr Darling wants to more than double the Essex terminal's annual traffic from 21 million to 50 million passengers, making it bigger than Gatwick and second only to Heathrow in size.

BAA, which operates the airport, revealed yesterday that even under its most optimistic timetable, completion of a new runway had slipped from its original target of "2011 or 2012" to 2013. The company added that the project would slip "several years" further unless it was allowed to raise money through a surcharge of up to £1 on all passengers passing through Heathrow and Gatwick - a proposal currently forbidden under the Civil Aviation Authority's economic guidelines.

Airlines have accused BAA of coming up with gold-plated proposals which cost far too much and are unnecessary for the cost-conscious travellers who typically pass through the airport on budget flights.

A runway alone would only cost £90m. But BAA wants to add taxiways costing £420m, a £1.2bn terminal extension and improved roads and railways costing £670m, all financed by higher landing charges.

EasyJet and Ryanair have warned that they will abandon the airport unless BAA scales back its financial proposals - a move which would deprive Stansted of 80% of its traffic, turning any new runway into a white elephant.

In a rare joint statement, the two budget airlines accused the airport of designing "marble-lined terminals". Ryanair has accused BAA of planning a "Taj Mahal" in the Essex countryside, with gates linked by "little Noddy trains", while easyJet's chief operating officer, Ed Winter, said: "BAA is planning to build a folly on the grandest scale."

Stansted, which is in a relatively sparsely populated area, is viewed as the best option to relieve pressure on London's airports, which are struggling to cope with unprecedented growth in international travel during the past decade.

Mr Darling has told MPs that "doing nothing is not an option" and that the government must plan ahead to prevent a logjam in the skies.

But local activists, including the celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and the former Beirut hostage Terry Waite, are campaigning against extra noise and pollution at Stansted.

BAA insisted yesterday that it remained optimistic about Stansted's future. Its chief executive, Mike Clasper, said: "I'm very confident we will be building a new runway here at Stansted as the first new runway in the south-east since the war. This is a very do-able project and we're very committed to doing it."

But to raise the necessary funds, Stansted would have to increase its charges to airlines from £2.89 per passenger to between £7 and £8.

An easyJet spokesman said this would make it impossible for the airline to continue using Stansted, as it would wipe out its average profit per passenger of £2.50.

BAA said it would also need to subsidise Stansted from airport charges at Heathrow and Gatwick, where it hopes to impose a surcharge of between 50p and £1 per passenger.

Mr Clasper said this would be justified by the wider economic benefits of developing Stansted in greater competition, more choice, and ultimately lower fares.

But British Airways and Virgin said they would fight any levy at Heathrow and Gatwick. They said they were not prepared to contribute towards a new runway at Stansted, where they have no operations.

A Virgin Atlantic spokesman said: "This is outrageous and we will fight this proposal tooth and nail."

Local opponents to expansion at Stansted have long argued that the economic case for development of the airport is weak.

Carol Barbone, the director of the campaign group Stop Stansted Expansion, said: "We're going to see a very, very big fight indeed over this. Why should airlines at Heathrow and Gatwick pay for their low-cost rivals to profit at a time when the airline industry claims to be in trouble?"

The government wants to follow a new runway at Stansted with a third landing strip at Heathrow. Mr Darling's white paper approved long-term expansion at 20 other airports, including Birmingham, Edinburgh, Bristol, Teesside, Leeds Bradford and Liverpool John Lennon.

20 May 2005


Air Pressure: a proposal from BAA to finance a second runway at Stansted by using subsidies from other London airports is flying into opposition


Kevin Done reports on how BAA managed to anger rival airlines operating from Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted by proposing to raise charges - Financial Times - 19th May 2005

They would rise from an average of £3 per arriving and departing passenger to £5, the present regulatory cap, in April 2007. From the start of the next regulatory period from 2008 to 2013 the charge at Stansted would have to rise further to between £7 and £8 a passenger.

The airport handles more than 21m passengers and BAA forecasts this will rise to 35m by 2014 - 2015, the maximum envisaged using the existing single runway. The airport increased its operating profits (before exceptional items) in the 12 months to March 31 from £39 to £46m.

While the threatened rise in Stansted user charges brought EasyJet and Ryanair to the barricades, Mr Clasper then succeeded in aggravating his other customers at Heathrow and Gatwick by declaring that a second runway at Stansted - to take capacity to 70m passengers - could be built in timely fashion and with reasonable financing conditions, only if it were cross subsidised by airlines at the other two airports. He said a charge of between 50p and £1 a passenger would be needed at both airports.

The declaration was like showing a red rag to a bull.

Heathrow airlines - lead by BA, Virgin Atlantic and BMI British Midland - were already up in arms at the big jump in Heathrow user charges implemented by BAA in 2003 to finance the £4.2bn building of a fifth terminal at Heathrow, which is due to come into operation in March 2008.

They had been mollified by the decision of the Civil Aviation Authority, the economic regulator for the three London airports, to move from the previous arrangement of "system-wide" pricing - allowing such cross subsidisation -to "stand-alone" pricing form future regulatory periods.

The proposals yesterday from Mr Clasper would seriously undermine the CAA approach however.

EasyJet and Ryanair said they would be calling on the CAA "to force BAA to scale back its plans and only build what its customers are prepared to pay for".

Roger Wiltshire, secretary general of the British Air Travel Association, said that given the much higher number of passengers using Heathrow and Gatwick, these passengers would in effect be giving a £4 cross subsidy to every Stansted passenger.

There is much at stake in the row.

Mr Clasper said that by 2013 - his new proposed date for bringing a second runway into operation as part of the £2bn first stage of Stansted expansion - London's airports would already be severely congested.

The congestion would become chronic if the runway were delayed for several years, with suppressed demand running at about 5m passengers a year in the over-crowded south-east of England.

In unveiling his 30 year strategy for aviation in the air transport white paper, Alistair Darling, transport secretary, said several of the big airports were already "close to capacity so failure to allow for increased capacity could have serious consequences".

Mr Clasper said yesterday, however, that "BAA will not invest until it is satisfied there is a good prospect of making a good return for shareholders".

Many airlines, as used to announcing losses as profits, will have taken close notice that BAA on Tuesday announced a pre-tax profit of £733m, up 36% on the previous year.

Ultimately the regulator - and the government - will have to decide however, who is to pay and who is to profit from London's expanding airports.

20 May 2005

Choose BAA, and you will experience democracy at its best -
buy as much as you can in their airport shopping centres

Read BAA's Annual Report
Waiting for planes lifts BAA by 36%
Airport operator praises "democratic" browsing

Andrew Clark - Guardian - 18 May 2005

Britain's main airport operator, BAA, has delivered a 36% jump in annual profits to £733m as airport passengers spent record amounts in shops, restaurants and bars.

The firm said recruiting 600 extra guards had shortened queues at checkpoints, allowing travellers extra time to browse in duty free stores.

BAA also benefited from a hike in airport charges at Heathrow agreed with the Civil Aviation Authority, despite vehement opposition from its airline customers.

The company's chief executive, Mike Clasper, said: "We provide a good service to passengers in some of the lowest priced airports in the world. If we get people through security who are not anxious, who have time to pause, then they will spend money. It's a democracy and I feel proud about that".

BAA runs 6 airports in Britain including Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Passenger traffic rose by 6.3% to 141m, and the average retail expenditure per person was £4.16.

The firm said 90% of travellers passed through security in its target time of 10 minutes. Longer X-ray belts and faster procedures cut the average time spent processing each passenger to 12 seconds. New sushi bars and improved drinks displays in duty-free shops helped capture passengers' pennies.

The group made exceptional profits of £112m on property disposals. Excluding one-off gains, its underlying profits were up 18% to £637m.Although airlines are suffering from the impact of soaring oil prices, growth in passenger traffic has remained solid among low-cost carriers. There has also been a recovery on transatlantic routes where struggling American airlines are offering discounted fares.

Mr Clasper said: "Profits at every single one of our airports have gone up. It's a case of bringing ideas into the business and driving the performance hard across the piste".

Heathrow's operating profit increased 11% to £405m, while Gatwick's contribution rose by 17% to £106m and Stansted, fuelled by budget carriers, turned in an 18% jump in earnings to £46.

BAA's airport charges have been the subject of a series of disputes with airlines. Carriers at Heathrow have been asked to pay higher fees to contribute towards the £4.2bn cost of building a fifth terminal, although airlines such as BMI have pointed out that they are paying for a facility that will be reserved for British Airways.

There have also been complaints from no-frills airlines at Stansted at the prospect of higher charges to fund a second runway. Ryanair has accused BAA of spending a fortune on "Taj Mahal terminals" and "little Noddy trains" instead of opting for low cost construction.

BAA shares rose 9p to 612p, although analysts predicted that passenger growth would slow this year as oil prices remain high and a recovery in traffic following the war in Iraq draws to a close.

BAA forecasts traffic growth of 3.5% at its London airports this year - the lowest since the year to March 2002, which was hit by al-Qaida's terrorist attacks on September 11th. BAA said its air terminal at Heathrow had reached 60% completion, while work was well underway for the arrival of the A380 superjumbo in spring 2006.

OUR COMMENT: Is the aviation world a little crazy? Long haul airlines are desperately trying to balance their budgets, yet low cost airlines, cutting everything they consider unnecessary (in one case including wheel chairs and asking their crews to pay for their uniforms as well as the costs of retraining pilots) get cheap airport charges at Stansted and other airports wanting customers. This is partly subsidised by higher charges paid elsewhere by more traditional airlines who still provide a service to passengers and staff.

Meantime BAA makes up its own profits by running retail shopping centres in the airports based on an out of date system of apportioning duty free shopping (loss to the tax payer?) and also selling property (any of it near Stansted?)

What does the government say? - From Tony Blair's own statements, we conclude that even though he recognises that aviation will contribute more and more to climate change, a process that he regards as one of our most dangerous problems, He is not going to tax air travel in the same way that he taxes motorists, he does not dare to tell people that they cannot travel cheaply. Everyone must be able to go wherever and when they wish to without any thought as to the environmental effects of their journey.

And, BAA will be waiting for these passengers to spend their ticket savings on some of those really useful airport goodies, which are cheaper than they can buy at home.

Pat Dale

20 May 2005


Airport car parks raise £155 million a year

Times on-line - 18 May 2005

Business travellers leaving their cars at some of Britain's busiest airports are spending more than ever than on parking charges, according to figures released this week.

In its annual report, BAA - the company that runs seven UK airports including Heathrow, Gatwick and Glasgow - has revealed that net income from parking charges rose by 9.2 per cent in the year to 31 March. Car parking now raises £155 million a year for the company, more than a quarter of its total net income from retail operations and even outstripping duty free sales.

BAA's car park revenues are understandable when you look at the cost of parking at some of its airports. A 24-hour stay at one of BAA's short-term car parks at Heathrow, for example, costs £43. A study by the Competition Commission of car parking prices at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted published in 2002 showed that short-term car parking prices had increased in real terms by more than 50 per cent at all three airports in just eight years. Long-term parking at Heathrow had risen by nearly 20 per cent and by a whopping 126 per cent at Stansted over the same period.

Although BAA is committed to increasing the usage of public transport to its airports, through the use of levies on all car parking charges that is put towards public transport initiatives for example, airport car parks are expanding. The number of car parking spaces at Stansted grew by more than 3,000 to 24,000 in the four years to 2004.

20 May 2005


Jeremy Warner's Outlook: Lift-off for Stansted runway row

The Independent - 19 May 2005

The Government's go-ahead for the construction of a new runway in the South-east of England always promised to turn into an almighty punch-up and so it is proving. However, the fisticuffs are not so much between the airport operator BAA and local protesters - although in the fullness of time there will be plenty of action in that department - but between BAA and its airline customers.

Last year Tony Blair decided in his wisdom that the runway should be built at Stansted ready in time to open in 2011, even though the economic case for siting it at Heathrow was overwhelming, as his Chancellor, among others, pointed out to him. Stansted may lie in open countryside but Heathrow is the place where international travellers want to arrive.

The choice of Essex over west London was a politically expedient one - Stansted sits in a sea of blue whereas the flight path into Heathrow passes over an uncomfortably large number of Labour marginals. The fig leaf used to justify Stansted was that a new runway there did not face any of the environmental obstacles that a third runway at Heathrow would need to overcome. It was also argued that Stansted is where the explosion in no-frills air travel is happening.

Having initially gone along with the pretence that Stansted's passengers could finance a new runway and associated facilities costing £4bn, BAA has now admitted what was plain all along - that the project can only work if it is cross-subsidised by passengers at Heathrow and Gatwick.

BAA has to persuade the Civil Aviation Authority to agree, because the current regulatory rules state that any airport expansion in the South-east must be self-financing. Reaching agreement with its airline customers looks a lot trickier. Ryanair and easyJet fear that paying for another Taj Mahal at Stansted will wreck their low-cost business models and with it the very rationale for choosing Stansted in the first place. But British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and bmi are equally opposed to the idea of making their passengers at Heathrow and Gatwick pay for someone else's runway. If Heathrow can pay for Terminal Five, then Stansted must pay for Runway Two.

Even if BAA wins the cross-subsidy argument, the second runway will not now open until 2013. It if loses, then it will be nearer to 2020. Heathrow, on the other hand, could finance a third runway tomorrow from the £405m it makes in profits. The odds of a third runway at Heathrow before a second one at Stansted will continue to shorten. In fact, it could be among Gordon Brown's first announcements as prime minister.

20 May 2005

easyJet And Ryanair Accuse BAA Of The Great Consumer Rip-Off

a2media group on-line - 18 May 2005

Today, BAA has informed a number of people, but not yet its airline customers, that it intends to increase charges from the current level of around £2.89 to up to £8 by 2008 to pay for an airport which will now not open until 2013 at the earliest.

Only 24 hours after reporting a profit jump of 19% to £637m, BAA has dropped a bombshell on the UK airline industry by announcing a further raid on its customers.

Charges at Stansted Airport will increase by almost 300% and passengers at Heathrow and Gatwick will be expected to chip-in up to £1 per passenger to pay for it.

easyJet and Ryanair, which between them account for almost 80% of Stansted's passengers, have always argued that it is necessary to develop Stansted Airport - providing the infrastructure meets the needs of Stansted's customers.

This means constructing a new runway and associated terminals that are fit for low-cost airlines. It doesn't mean building a long-haul airport capable of taking an A380 with marble-lined terminals to match.

Today, BAA has informed a number of people, but not yet its airline customers, that it intends to increase charges from the current level of around £2.89 to up to £8 by 2008 to pay for an airport which will now not open until 2013 at the earliest.

It also said that it will seek a "contribution" of up to £1 from passengers at Heathrow and Gatwick to pay for Stansted - despite the Civil Aviation Authority's view that the development should be financially self-supporting. British Airways, bmi and Virgin Atlantic have previously threatened legal action if BAA attempted to cross-subsidise.

BAA has gone about this completely the wrong way. It has not yet consulted its airline customers on these incendiary plans and only a couple of weeks ago the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced that it had fallen at the first hurdle and was going back to the drawing board on BAA's plans to spend over £100m on initial planning for expansion at Stansted.

easyJet and Ryanair will now be calling on the CAA to force BAA to scale back its plans and only build what its customers are prepared to pay for.

As BAA has today admitted, if Stansted Airport were to be independently owned and financed it would never be able to afford something on the scale that BAA is proposing.

Ed Winter, easyJet's Chief Operating Officer and Chairman of the Stansted Airport Consultative Committee, said:

"BAA's has today announced the Great Consumer Rip-Off and it should send a shiver down the spine of every airline passenger in the UK. It is planning to build a folly on the grandest scale that is unnecessary and unwanted.

Before sensible low airport charges attracted the likes of easyJet to Stansted, it was little more than a white elephant in an Essex field with a single runway; BAA seems determined to make it a white elephant in an Essex field with two runways.

"Today it has added insult to injury with is plans to fleece up to £1 from passengers at Heathrow and Gatwick to pay for the development of Stansted.

As such BAA clearly holds in contempt the CAA's edict that each of BAA's three London airports should be treated as self-financing, stand-alone, independent businesses.

"So the CAA must now stick to its guns and force BAA to only build at Stansted what its users are prepared to pay for.

If the CAA can't guarantee this, then the BAA's ownership of the three main London airports should be broken-up.

"BAA must not be allowed to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs."

David O'Brien Ryanair's director of Operations said: "The proposals by the BAA airport monopoly to blow £4bn on a second runway which even they confirm should cost only £200m is just the latest example of the gold-plating rip-off of consumers practised by the BAA airport monopoly.

Ordinary passengers should not be forced to pay higher air fares just to finance another BAA Taj Mahal. Ryanair will continue to fight - with easyJet - for lower cost airports and lower fares."

20 May 2005


Ryanair pilots miss out on rise

Budget airline Ryanair announced a 3% pay rise for nearly all of its 2,600 staff yesterday.

The firm said all its employees across Europe - apart from Dublin based pilots - would ben3fit from the rise, backdated to the start of April.

The director of personnel, Eddie Wilson, said: "Despite high oil prices and over capacity in many European markets, Ryanair will again be one of the few airlines in Europe to award salary increases and secure careers for our people."

All staff who negotiated directly with the carrier during a round of pay talks last month are due to receive a rise.

However, its group of around Dublin based pilots will receive no increase after it was claimed they were the only employees not to have taken part in the direct talks.

"As a result they have not at this time enjoyed a pay increase; however, the door remains open to this group should they choose to avail themselves of it" Mr Wilson said.

The company claimed that Ryanair staff were enjoying better pay and conditions than its unionised competitors.

Ryanair has hit the headlines for its cost-saving initiatives in recent times, including its decision to ban staff from charging up mobile phones.

16 May 2005


Warning from the Royal Society

Policy statements and reports - science and education
Royal Society response to Defra review of the UK Climate Change Programme
16 May 2005
Ref: 02/05

Climate change is one of the most serious threats to humans and the environment. There is clear evidence that increasing greenhouse gas emissions, in particular carbon dioxide, are causing global warming.

By the Governments own admission in the review consultation paper, its policies are not sufficient to meet the targets to reduce carbon dioxide emissions set out in the UK Climate Change Programme. We consider that under current policies, even the revised assessment of being able to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to 14% below 1990 levels, is overly optimistic.

Our response to the Government highlights that Government policies should be directed towards ensuring that a penalty is put on all CO2 emissions produced from human activities from the domestic, industrial and transport sectors. We consider the introduction of well-designed economic instruments, such as a carbon tax or auctioned permits, is the most cost-efficient way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

16 May 2005

Royal Society news stories

Government must face difficult energy issues in this parliament

Ahead of the Queens Speech tomorrow Sir David Wallace, Vice President of the Royal Society today (Monday 16 May) urged the Government to address, in the next parliamentary session, the difficult issue of how the UK can achieve an adequate supply of affordable energy while cutting emissions of carbon dioxide and warned that its current climate change policies are not working well enough.

Sir David made his comments as the Royal Society published its response to the review by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs of the UK climate change programme. The Royal Society warns that the Government is still overestimating how much the UK can cut its carbon dioxide emissions without changes in current policy.

Sir David said: There are some tough political decisions to be made, in this parliament, about how the UK manages its seemingly insatiable appetite for energy at a time when cutting emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide is imperative. This is underlined by the fact that, at the current rate, even the Governments revised assessment of how much carbon dioxide the UK will cut is frankly unrealistic.

The Royal Society points out that Governments climate change policies have largely not been responsible for the cuts in UK carbon dioxide emissions achieved to date. Instead these have been the result of changes such as the liberalisation of the gas market in the 1980s which led to a move away from coal and oil burning for electricity generation and a reduction in heavy industry.

The failure of Governments climate policies are highlighted by the fact that in 2002 2003 the UKs emissions of carbon dioxide actually increased by over two per cent.

The Government has already admitted that under current policies it will not meet its original target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent below 1990 levels, by 2010. Instead it has predicted that the UK will make a 14 per cent cut requiring a seven per cent reduction in emissions in the next five years in addition to the seven per cent already achieved in the last 15 years.

The Royal Society warns that unless the rate of development of both renewable and energy efficiency measures make up for the loss of capacity resulting from the phasing out of nuclear power, the UK will actually become more reliant on fossil fuels with the result that carbon dioxide emissions will go up rather than down.

Sir David said: Our emissions are clearly going in the wrong direction. The Governments revised climate change programme must spell out its resolve to look at how we deal with the loss of capacity from nuclear power stations and look at the role that all energy sources including nuclear, along with energy efficiency measures, might play in meeting the Governments ambitions for cutting carbon dioxide emissions. This is particularly important in the year that the Prime Minister has claimed international leadership for the UK on climate change by pushing it up the G8 and European Union agendas.

The Society has also recommended that the Government should, in its revised climate change programme, introduce a carbon tax which would put a cost on all emissions of carbon dioxide from all sectors including industrial, domestic and transport. This would encourage the development of cleaner technologies and a move away from carbon based fuels in the overall energy supply as well as promoting energy efficiency measures. A report by the Royal Society has shown that the impact of a carbon tax on the long-term global GDP would be negligible

16 May 2005

'Kyoto-style' approach for oil supplies

News Environment. Thursday 12 May 2005

The creation of an international agreement to safeguard the world's fast-depleting oil supplies will be one of the key proposals at a major conference later this month, it has been announced. The two-day conference at the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon will involve over 300 government and industry representatives, including former UK Environment Minister Michael Meacher MP.

Based along similar lines to the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, the proposed 'Oil Depletion Protocol' would aim to encourage major consumers to use less oil and develop viable alternatives, whilst helping less affluent nations to meet their oil requirements.

"Huge adjustments will have to be made to improve energy efficiency and bring in renewable sources as world oil production inevitably begins to decline, possibly within the next few years," commented Colin Campbell, a Board member of the London-based Oil Depletion Analysis Centre.

"To prevent an incoherent, destructive global free-for-all for the world's remaining oil, we need a managed approach through international agreement. The alternative is ever-soaring oil prices with destabilising effects on the world economy, which clearly would be in no one's interest," added Mr Campbell.

Comment. Change the Aviation expansion policy? No need to actually cut oil consumption, simply stop encouraging expansion!

16 May 2005

It is frequently suggested that air travel can be expanded without damage to the environment since technological advances will reduce aircraft emissions. The following article published last week takes the arguments into the classroom.

Lesson for the easyJet set

Frequent flyers of the future must consider the conflict between cheap flights and protecting the planet. There's no time like now to discuss it, says Lyndsey Turner

The Guardian. Tuesday May 10.

The Airbus A380 after its maiden flight. Its makers claim that it is a leader in fuel efficiency and noise reduction.

The bounty of cheap flights afforded by the rise of the low-cost airlines has allowed us freedom to travel on a scale unimaginable just a generation ago. But these flights come with a hefty environmental cost, a cost that, at the moment, the airlines - and we - are simply not paying.

A £20 flight to southern Spain, for instance, would cost £120 if air fuel were taxed on the same scale as petrol. The fact that flying is not subject to the same degree of environmental scrutiny as road travel is worrying, especially when we place our current addiction to air travel within the perspective of the global energy crisis. That same flight from London to southern Spain emits 1,300kg of carbon dioxide per passenger, burning the same amount of energy as it would take to light four household bulbs continuously for a year.

Although the manufacturers of the new superjet Airbus 380 claim that their jet will be quieter and more fuel efficient than Boeing's 747, airports around the world are already making plans to widen runways and add new terminals to cope with the demands of this new model. It seems there is simply no such thing as environmentally friendly air travel.

Commentators are predicting that the arrival of the Airbus in 2006 will herald a new golden age of travel - the pictures of its maiden flight seemed to symbolise man's continued mastery of the skies. However, our confidence will begin to look like arrogance if and when the world's fossil fuel reserves fail to meet the demands of our appetite for flight. We are going to have to change our habits.

The classroom is the ideal place to confront the intrepid explorers, city-breakers and long-haul commuters of the future with information about noise pollution, CO2 emissions and fuel shortages. After all, it is ultimately their generation that will pay for our wanderlust.

The Airbus and the environment
A school exercise.

Find out about the weight and relative dimensions of the Airbus 380 in the flash animation available at www.guardian.co.uk/flash/0,5860,1393110,00.html and use these statistics to inform a discussion of the physics of manned flight. Alternatively, download the paper aeroplane template from www.airbus.com and help pupils to assemble and race their own version of the new plane.

The marketing people at Airbus are keen to stress that, despite the size and weight of the 380, the plane promises to be a leader in fuel efficiency and the reduction of noise pollution. Investigate these claims at www.airbus.com and www.guardian.co.uk/airlines before asking students to compile a table that compares the Airbus with the Boeing 747, the world's most popular passenger jet.

A single jumbo jet making a daily flight from London to Florida releases an annual amount of carbon dioxide that would "cost" three wind farms in alternative fuel terms. Ask pupils to consider the environmental impact of the airline industry, paying particular attention to the fact that air fuel, unlike car fuel, is not taxed.

A world crisis?

Draw students' attention to the problem of noise pollution faced by individuals who work in airports or live under flight paths by asking them to measure the levels of noise with which they come into contact. Explain units such as the decibel and the devices used to measure sound levels. Given that a library tends to measure 35db, normal traffic 75db and the take-off of a plane 120db, pupils should be encouraged to keep a noise diary of their day in which the sound levels of different activities are estimated and recorded.

Many consider the proliferation of cheap flights to be one of the perks of 21st-century living. Challenge students to research cheap flights on the internet and to compare the financial cost of these flights with their environmental cost (a visit to www.chooseclimate.org will enable students to measure the CO2 emissions of each flight, converting it into the energy required to run a light bulb for a year).

Take the opportunity to introduce students to some of the key issues in the energy debate and encourage the class to speculate on the potential impact of an energy crisis on their day- to-day lives (rationing of electricity, black-outs, bans on cars, and so on). Alternatively, commission a piece of creative writing (a poem or a short story, for instance) that looks ahead to a time when gas, electricity, heat and light are in dangerously short supply.

Come fly with me

Investigate the history of aviation. Visit a site such as www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/online/flight/flight/history.asp for a timeline of advances made in the field of aeronautical engineering and use this as the basis of a discussion about the future of the airlines. Draw pupils' attention to the birth (and death) of the Concorde project and speculate on whether the Airbus is destined to be another white elephant.

The developed world is addicted to travel. Ask students to investigate the rise in the number of holidays taken abroad and the growth of the short-break culture. Encourage the class to speculate upon the amount of unnecessary journeys they take each month - where might they use public transport instead of cars?

Using the information gathered in the lesson, ask students to complete a piece of analytical writing in response to the question: can air travel ever be environmentally friendly? These studies can be incorporated into the curriculum subjects.

Resources on learnpremium.co.uk

Students can find more about air travel and the environment on www.learnpremium.co.uk, the Guardian's subscription-based schools resources website. Learnnewsdesk, learnpremium's news site for nine- to 14-year-olds, explores the subject in detail through extracts from the Guardian and the Observer in this week's news in focus. All key stages should check out learnpremium's geography section. Learnnewsdesk is available free to London schools via the London Grid for Learning on www.LGfl.net

16 May 2005


Stansted runway setback for BAA

The Times On-line - 15 May 2005

THE airport operator BAA has suffered a setback in its plans for a second runway at Stansted, Essex, with the regulator saying it will look again at how much the company is allowed to spend on preparatory work, writes Dominic O'Connell.

BAA was given the green light to spend £105m on planning for the runway, with half of this sum earmarked to buy affected houses. But earlier this year the Civil Aviation Authority, which regulates BAA's spending, said it had withdrawn its approval.

Now the watchdog has decided it will hold a new consultation process, which could take six months. The CAA said it wanted to "avoid the risk that it has not properly captured the views of all interested parties."

The move is a victory for airlines at Stansted, which say BAA's plans for a new runway and terminal are too expensive and will drive up charges.

BAA said that it was committed to the spending. The company will report its full-year results on Tuesday, when it is expected to reveal that profits at Stansted have risen from £39m to about £55m.

16 May 2005


Blow to Ryanair as court rules subsidies 'illegal'

Ian Guider - The Examiner - 12 May 2005

A FRENCH court has dealt a blow to Ryanair with a ruling that subsidies given to the airline by the chambers of commerce in the city of Pau were illegal.

The Pau-Bearn Chamber of Commerce had given the carrier EUR80,000 to support the opening of a route to London's Stansted Airport from the city in the south-west of France. The deal was changed to a fee of EUR11 per passenger up to a limit of EUR400,000 a year.

In addition to the money, the airline also got a cheap landing fares deal at the airport and other benefits including preferential rates for ground-handling charges.

The chamber said the deal with Ryanair was "in exchange for actions aimed at increasing the prestige of the city of Pau."

However, the court ruled yesterday that the aid to Ryanair was illegal and it must be stopped within two months or the Chambers of Commerce will be fined EUR1,000 a day until it complies with the decision.

The complaint against Ryanair was taken by its rival Air Mediterranee, which claimed the Irish airline was receiving unfair assistance.

Ryanair said yesterday it would redraft the contract with the Pau chamber and consider expanding its services to and from the city.

A spokesperson for the airline claimed the case had been brought by Air Mediterranee in a bid to block competition.

Michel Brau, president of the Pau/Bearn chamber, said in a statement: "We are pleased to reconfirm our commitment to developing low fares services in Pau Airport and will shortly redraft the contract with Ryanair in order to reflect the findings of the [court]. In the meantime, there will be no interruption to Ryanair's services on the London route and we look forward to welcoming more low fares routes to Pau Airport."

Yesterday's ruling is the second time Ryanair has lost a state aid case. Last year, the European Commission ruled that Charleroi Airport in Brussels had breached EU law by giving several million euros in support in return for Ryanair setting up a base at the airport.

12 May 2005


During the election campaign the environment was rarely discussed, in spite of the fact that all parties officially recognise that climate change is a danger that has to be dealt with ASAP

What did Tony Blair say?
"It ain't going to happen"

Tony Blair, when taxed before the election about the contradictions between his climate change and aviation policies (which would require demand management measures on aviation to reconcile):

"Look, I think the reality is you're never going to tackle global warming by cutting your economic growth or your living standards and whatever people might want us to do there the political realities are that it ain't going to happen" - from Peter Osborne's Election unspun: Why politician's can't tell the truth C4

12 May 2005


UK likely to miss domestic CO2 cut goal

Reuters On-line - 9 May 2005

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will miss its domestic target of cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent by 2010 by a wide margin unless it takes drastic steps to curb air pollution, a study said on Monday.

The UK is likely to meet its less demanding Kyoto Protocol target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions despite a rise in CO2 pollution last year, said analysts Cambridge Econometrics.

The only way the UK can meet its tougher, self-imposed target is to impose tighter limits on CO2 emissions in the second phase of the European Union emissions trading scheme which starts in 2008.

"The government's domestic carbon reduction goal is likely to be missed by a wide margin, unless the allocation of permits is considerably reduced in phase two (of the EU scheme)," the study said.

If tight controls are not imposed in the second phase, then the UK's CO2 emissions are likely to be about 13 percent below 1990 levels in 2010, the study showed.

This coincides with government forecasts in March.

Under the EU scheme, which started in January, power stations and industrial sites have to reduce their CO2 emissions.

Companies are given allowances to cover their emissions and if they undercut their target, they can sell the allowances. If they overshoot their goal then firms need to buy extra quotas.

Carbon emissions from Britain's power stations are set to fall sharply in the medium term but pollution from road transport and household sectors will remain well above the 1990 level.

Britain has a legally binding target under the Kyoto Protocol of cutting its emissions of greenhouse gases by 12.5 percent from 1990 levels by 2008-2012.

The UK can meet this target thanks to the closure in the early 1990s of polluting coal-fired power stations and their replacement with much cleaner gas ones.

12 May 2005


Rural Areas can be worse than Towns!


News Environment - 30 April 2005

In urban areas in 2004, air pollution was recorded as moderate or higher on 22 days on average per site, compared with 50 days in 2003, 20 days in 2002 and 59 days in 1993. In general there has been a long term decline in the number of air pollution days, largely because of a reduction in particles and sulphur dioxide, but fluctuations from one year to the next can occur because of differences in weather conditions.

In rural areas, the figure for 2004 was 42 days on average per site, compared with 61 in 2003 and 30 in 2002. The number of days has fluctuated between 21 days in 1987 and the 2003 figure of 61 days. The series can be volatile from one year to the next, and there is no clear trend. This reflects the variability in levels of ozone, the main cause of pollution in rural areas. More ozone is produced in hot, sunny weather, as was the case during 2003.

OUR COMMENT: Ozone is formed, especially in sunlight, from chemical reactions between nitrogen dioxide and volatile organic compounds, both found in emissions from vehicles and aircraft. Ozone in the stratosphere may help to protect us from too much exposure to damaging ultra violet light from the sun. Ozone in the air we breath is a lung irritant.

A significant part of the case against the huge expansion of aviation proposed by the Government, especially at Stansted, is the environmental damage from both carbon and nitrogen oxides emissions, aggravating climate change and polluting the air around airports.

In Stansted's case another serious objection is the limited water resources. A suggested solution was a desalination plant, but it seems that Ken Livingstone recognises that such a solution contradicts all the efforts to save energy! The potential water shortage for Stansted expansion remains a problem….

Pat Dale

12 May 2005


UK likely to miss domestic CO2 cut goal

News Environment - 29 April 2005

Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has blocked proposals by Thames Water to build the UK's first desalination plant on the grounds that it is too energy intensive.

The £200 million plant had been planned near Barking in east London and Thames Water had said it would play a key role in guaranteeing water supplies to customers during drought periods.

However, the Mayor concluded that the development was not in line with the "sustainable management of water supply resources in London." This policy seeks to meet water supply needs in a sustainable manner through methods such as minimising use of treated water and reducing leakage. Such an energy intensive method of producing water as desalination was considered contrary to this objective.

Responding to this news, a Thames Water spokesman said the company was very disappointed and studying the reasons given for rejecting it. "There are a number of factors which make this a crucial requirement for London. The city already receives less rainfall per head than places like Madrid and Istanbul, and climate change is likely only to increase local demand during increasingly hot and dry summers."

Climate change is caused by rising emissions of CO2, particularly as a result of energy intensive applications. An energy intensive desalination plant therefore, is likely to add to the problem.

Liberal Democrat London Assembly Environment Spokeperson, Mike Tuffrey, said: "Before Thames Water embarks on such an ambitious project they need to reduce leakages and reduce demand for piped water or we are just storing up problems for the future. The desalination plant would require enormous amounts of energy to convert salt water to pure water and this could leave lasting damage on the environment."

"Simply increasing the supply of water, whether through flooding parts of the countryside for new reservoirs or through building energy intensive desalination plants, has significant environmental impacts."


James Humphreys, a former Defra official and No 10 adviser, on how New Labour's failure to address the environmental agenda prompted him to stand for the Greens on May 5

The Guardian - 27 April 2005

The road from Department for the Environment official to Downing Street insider and now to Green party candidate is a curious one. I joined the department as a policy adviser at the last high point of environmental politics in 1989, when more than a million people voted Green in the European elections.

I was working on the Cites Convention on the international trade in endangered species. Michael Howard was a junior environment minister (later to take the top job), seeking to improve the Major government's green credentials.

But with John Gummer's arrival as environment secretary in 1993, there was a genuinely enthusiastic secretary of state who could also exploit the political argument that progress on the environment was necessary to win back votes.

With Gummer in office, the results on the ground were impressive. Money was found to clean up rivers and beaches; there was action on landfill, waste, packaging, vehicle emissions, and wildlife protection. His alliance with transport secretary Sir George Young - the "bicycling baronet" - helped cut back the disastrous road-building programme.

By 1997, New Labour promised even faster progress and, with massive public goodwill and an overwhelming parliamentary majority, they had the mandate and power to act decisively. Proposals such as reuniting the departments of environment and transport boded well.

In late 1997, I was seconded to Downing Street as an adviser. From inside No 10, it was clear that enthusiasm for the environment was not fashionable. Blair's inner circle remained fixed on other priorities, especially health and education. As a civil servant, I was well used to such realities. With money tight in the first two years of the administration, the refrain was that there could be no extra resources.

Like others, I did wonder why we had to wait two years for a white paper on sustainable development when the Bank of England could be given its independence within a week. The reality was that the environment did not then have enough "saliency" to be a true priority for New Labour.

"Salient" issues, in Downing Street jargon, are those that voters (especially in marginal constituencies) say matter most to them. If crime or asylum emerges from polling and focus groups, then politicians respond with speeches and initiatives. Anything that is not a salient issue can languish.

The environment was not one of the big issues. Further, the Downing Street mindset was that the solutions to climate change would automatically follow others. The argument was that carbon emissions were on track to meet targets, so no challenging or unpopular decisions - no "tough choices" - were needed.

But in 2000, this policy came unstuck. Fuel protesters forced the abandonment of the annual increases in road fuel duty brought in under John Major. Not only did this knock away the most effective plank of the government's drive on climate change, but it also discouraged Labour from trying to replace it with anything else. If motorists would not put up with paying the full price of their pollution, why court trouble by trying to get airline passengers to do the same?

Meanwhile, other Labour policies were clearly making the climate change problem worse. The expansion of housing in the south-east, driven more by property developers than any strategic vision, was obviously going to push up car use yet further. Even basic measures such as home energy efficiency were hardly more energetic than under the Tories.

In 2003, after five years in power, it was time to move on. With Defra now lacking the political clout to make real progress on the environment, and morale in the civil service remaining low, I left to work at Kingston University.

Looking back, I think that the closeness of New Labour to big business has made it hard for it to act decisively on the environment. There has always been corporate sponsorship, donations and hospitality, but with New Labour it goes far deeper. When Sir David Simon, head of BP, became a Department of Trade and Industry minister, and later Anji Hunter, Tony Blair's personal adviser at No 10, left for a senior post in BP, it suggested two worlds overlapping so comfortably that confrontation was inconceivable.

The economy is the one success of the Labour party "project". In Downing Street terms, it underpins the consumerist culture of those critical marginal seats. It unites Blair and Gordon Brown in their enthusiasm for competitiveness and material progress. But it leaves the environment and issues such as climate change out in the cold.

So when West Midlands businesses asked for the M1 to be widened to speed their goods around, or the British Airports Authority asked for new runways so air traffic could grow, or arms companies asked for subsidies to protect export jobs, they left No 10 not with the warm words doled out to campaigning groups but with cast-iron assurances. If it meant more countryside was built upon, or more lives ruined by aircraft noise, more small shops going under, or more lives lost in floods and famine, then so be it.

Blair is now expanding Heathrow and Stansted airports to indulge the public's appetite for ultra-cheap flights, despite the environmental damage caused by aircraft emissions. He is building new roads and widening others, despite the knowledge that extra capacity encourages extra traffic. And he is imposing unsustainable new developments around the south-east, such as the Thames Gateway project, while experts predict unprecedented water shortages unless there is a huge rise in water storage capacity.

It is no surprise then that the recent rise in public concern about the environment, and increased support for the Green party, should have left Downing Street worried. Blair has made impassioned speeches about the threat from climate change. His advisers have been busy schmoozing environmental groups, reassuring them that Blair will deliver for them - after the next election, of course.

What is clear from working in Downing Street is that No 10 can and does control everything in government and policy making - but not how people vote. So if the party strategists see voters deserting them for the Greens, they will have to respond with actions to match their fine words. And this makes the election on May 5 one in which every vote really will count.

James Humphreys was a strategy adviser in No 10 from 1997 to 2003. He is the Green party candidate for Islington South and Finsbury, London.

12 May 2005


Coalition calls on commission to tax aviation fuel (published on 15-Apr-2005)

European economic ministers have been urged to take decisive steps to phase out the derogation of civil aviation from fuel taxation by a coalition of environmental NGOs.

Environmentalists argue that the aviation industry should have to pay for the climate-changing gases that they emit into the world's atmosphere

One of the items on the agenda at the upcoming ECOFIN Council meeting is kerosene taxation, which will be discussed in the context of new financial mechanisms for development in Africa, a French proposal to use revenues from kerosene taxation in this way.

In a letter to the ministers, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), Friends of Nature International (FNI), Friends of the Earth Europe (FoEE) and the European Federation for Transport and Environment (T&E) pointed out that tax exemptions for aviation harm the environment and distort competition with other means of transport.

The coalition therefore called on all Member States to agree to a kerosene tax in the upcoming ECOFIN Council meeting.

According to the coalition, such taxes can be introduced domestically or between individual Member States without harming a country's aviation industry, in case an agreement is not possible at EU level.

Some European countries, such as the Netherlands, have already introduced such a tax for domestic flights, and others have been encouraged to follow.

"In different studies, it has been shown that, besides kerosene taxes, en-route emission charges can be used to address greenhouse gas emissions of aviation. These instruments can be introduced within a short period of time and the revenues can be recycled back into the economy, thus increasing competitiveness," the coalition stated.

The letter has been delivered at a time when the Commission in preparing a communication on the different economic instruments to address the impact of aviation on the world's climate.


CASS - Commercial Aviation Sustainability Strategy

Launch expected mid - late June

This is a strategy due shortly from the aviation industry in response to UK government's request for the sector to develop a voluntary sustainability strategy. There has been no formal consultation as such. Unclear yet where report will be available on the web.

As everybody in the industry knows, concerns over the environmental impacts of aviation have come increasingly to the fore over the past year. The Future of Air Transport White Paper in December 2003 showed that politically the government is very constrained as to what it can do to allow further expansion of our airports.

Increasingly, the environmental lobby has successfully put its arguments in the media, with the more extreme groups arguing for a total cap on aircraft movements, restricting the industry to its present level. There has been an effective strategy of linking the problems of noise, air quality and emissions that cause climate change, to arguments about the lack of a fuel tax and VAT on air tickets, and even about the desirability of making certain types of flights at all.

For some time, the industry - especially the airports, which bear the brunt of local criticism - has been looking at how it can address the legitimate concerns of environmental pollution and other adverse affects of aviation. Prompted by the government, which has put the environment at the top of its agenda during its Presidency of the EU and as Chair of the G8, a group was established to create the Commercial Aviation Sustainability Strategy (CASS). This group was charged with writing a document which would set out the industry-wide response to the environmental challenge, and express a vision for the future, explaining how a sustainable aviation industry would sit within a world of declining fossil fuels, increased pollution and climate change, and increasing pressure on land and other transport modes.

Publication in March

The CASS process has taken the best part of a year to report, and the final document will be ready in March. It has been led by the main Trade Associations - AOA, BATA, SBAC - plus some of the leading industry players, such as NATS. This will be taken forward to the wider aviation industry for their approval. It is hoped that the vast majority of airlines, airports, and manufacturers will be able to support the CASS process. Indeed, the future credibility of the industry depends on CASS gaining acceptance by all parties, including the environmental groups, that it is a viable step towards aviation meeting its environmental obligations.

Without the CASS, the government will find it increasingly hard to resist calls for further economic and bureaucratic regulation of aviation. Calls for more airport terminals and runways will be rejected. EU officials will look with increased favour on taxation and growth restriction. Running parallel to the CASS process has been the hard negotiations to get our European aviation partners to accept the principle of emissions trading as a way of offsetting some of our environmental impacts. The airports sector in particular has been a strong proponent of this. The recent ACI decision to support emissions trading was a vindication of the UK position, but there remains a considerable amount of negotiation to be done. If emissions trading is accepted, it will be the first major piece of international environmental co-operation by the aviation sector. The significance of this should not be underestimated.

A mix of measures

Although the CASS process reaffirms the importance the industry attaches to emissions trading, it also proposes a whole range of commitments that can be implemented in the UK alone. Those of relevance to airports include commitments on monitoring of noise levels, producing plans to improve the modal mix of transport to airports, and the use of brownfield land. The full CASS document explains these commitments in detail and the reasons behind them.

The CASS has been a difficult document to construct, but it has been an extremely valuable exercise, not least as it has highlighted those areas where we lack knowledge and information. Considerable further detailed research is required to enhance our ability to make the correct decisions, particularly with regard to aircraft emissions.

For example, the precise effects of Radiative Forcing and the contribution of contrails to global warming remains unclear, yet calculating these are essential in deciding the levels of permits aviation would receive under any European emissions trading scheme. That is why the industry is also lobbying government to take the lead in creating a Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) which would link the various centres of academic research to drive the research priorities forward.

However, emissions trading and the KTN remain in the future. The CASS is imminent, and it is a vital first step. It does not pretend to have all the answers for building a sustainable industry, but it proposes verifiable steps towards achieving that aim.

Other industries with similarly fragmented profiles, such as the motor industry, have had similar problems. The SMMT Sustainability Strategy has been refined over five years and reports every year. Our sustainability strategy is on its first iteration. Progressively, over time, we envisage those areas that currently lack definition to be made more precise. We would hope that it forms the basis of a document which can become a European-wide blueprint for aviation sustainability.

Retaining goodwill

At present, the industry has the goodwill of most policy-makers and the travelling public. Except for some environmental groups and pressure groups attached to specific airports, the general wish to continue flying and the social and economic benefits that brings, means that we are still regarded positively. But it would be a mistake to assume that this state of affairs will continue for ever. Successful governments tune their political antennae to the prevailing winds, and we are already starting to see a shift. The Liberal Democrats have already announced that they favour no further expansion in the South East. The Conservatives have practically abandoned any strategic vision in favour of allowing their local MPs to campaign as they see fit. Labour have set themselves certain environmental objectives that cannot be met unless they have a fully paid-up aviation sector.

We have seen how public attitudes can shift over a single generation - witness the wearing of seatbelts, the decline in drink driving, the wearing of fur, and the numbers of products that proclaim 'not tested on animals'. We are seeing a change right now in attitudes to congestion charging on the roads. The fight against GM foods also shows how science can become secondary to people's deep-seated instincts over a particular issue. At present, the evidence is that people are happy to 'fly now' and worry about the environment later. But attitudes can change quickly, and governments can be surprisingly quick to adjust, especially if there is revenue to be earned. The aviation industry needs to be at the forefront of the debate, arguing from a position of strength and positive action, if we are not to be caught on the hop. The CASS is a vital element in that strategy.


Business Analysis: Blair brief puts business centre stage

Barrie Clement - The Independent - 11 May 2005

Tony Blair's third term promises big changes in a number of key areas for business and industry. The prospect of a new generation of nuclear power stations will thrust energy policy centre-stage, while transport is also likely to come to the forefront. Then there is the pensions crisis to tackle and the burden of red tape to ease.

These are the dogs that did not bark during the election campaign, but over the next parliament they will take on increasing significance. We look at the challenges facing Labour in the next five years and its ability to deliver.


Alistair Darling, the Transport Secretary, is expected to decide "in principle" to press ahead with a dedicated high-speed railway line between London and the North. Mr Darling indicated in February that the Government was looking into the feasibility of such a multi-billion pound link. It is thought that Mr Darling will persevere with some kind of public-private partnership, which could mean years of delay before the financial package is in place.

Expect few major initiatives elsewhere in the rail network. The new all-powerful rail directorate will simply expect the present system to work more efficiently, with some little-used rural lines closing down.

Within the next year or so Mr Darling is set to give the final go-ahead for the construction of a third runway at Heathrow. A series of government-sponsored working groups are trying to ensure the expansion proposed in the 2003 White Paper will not infringe tough new European environment laws.

It will be more difficult to arrive at a final decision over the proposed £4bn expansion at Stansted. Low-cost carriers already using the airport have said they will refuse to pay higher charges to fund the project, while airlines at Heathrow will take legal action if there is any question of cross-subsidy.

The Government backs road pricing based on satellite technology, to replace vehicle tax and fuel duty over the next 10 years.

9 May 2005


Pressure on BAA at the STACC meeting

Sinead Holland - Herts & Essex Observer - 5 May 2005

BAA bosses have been warned to stop behaving like Baldrick and come clean over their expansion plans for Stansted Airport.

The Blackadder jibe came as managing director Terry Morgan once again explained why even a draft interim master plan, including details of development up to 35 mppa , would not be available until the autumn. He was being questioned by members of the Stansted Airport Consultative Committee. Gerald McEwen, who represents Essex County Council, said: "You're like Baldrick with a cunning plan up your sleeve".

His Herts counterpart, Mary Bayes, told airport top brass that her constituents were becoming increasingly concerned about the impact of the new "25 mppa plus" planning application being prepared for Uttlesford District Council and needed reassurance.

Bernard Engel, who also represents Herts County Council, repeated that early clarification of projected passenger numbers between 25 and 35mppa was crucial to ensure the right infrastructure was put in place. He said: "We need to know what 25 mppa plus actually means."

Norman Mead, the North West Essex and East Herts Preservation Association spokesman, went further – accusing the airport of misleading local residents over the consequences of earlier expansion. He said: "We hear that the full use of the runway will only require another hotel and parking. Is this a fact? That's the thing that is bugging people."

Mr Morgan explained that Stansted was the only airport in the country trying to juggle the preparation of a master plan to comply with the Government's Aviation White Paper in tandem with a major planning application and that had led to the delay. Bosses are also formulating a second runway scheme.

But he promised: "We believe we will provide as much information as necessary for Uttlesford to determine the application. We believe we will give them a fully comprehensive description of the development and the environmental impact." He agreed to provide a more detailed timetable of when the information would be available.


A guarantee has been given that blighted homes purchased and then let by Stansted Airport will be maintained properly. So far, 29 properties have been bought as part of the Home Value Guarantee scheme and a further 21 are in the process of being valued or under offer.

MD Terry Morgan gave the assurance after hearing concerns that at least one house was boarded up. He said the property in question was in a poor state of repair and could not be let until it was refurbished.

He said security evaluations were carried out on all prospective tenants, grass cutting was about to start so that properties did not become eyesores, and a security company made daily checks on the houses.

Mr Morgan also reported that almost a third of the 500 householders eligible for the options agreement under the Home Owners' Support Scheme, HOSS, had applied, and BAA had updated its information following a judge's dismissal of Takeley Parish Council's legal challenge.

OUR COMMENT: It is somewhat surprising that it is so difficult for BAA to manage to produce both plans for the expansion applications and a master plan at the same time - surely the master plan will include the same information, with much less detail, and without any need to justify the proposed expansion with a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment, such as is required under Planning Law. Perhaps it is the evaluation and description of the consequences of expansion that are presenting the difficulties, and perhaps also the realisation as to how much infrastructure will be needed and the practical difficulties of providing it.

Pat Dale


A Reminder - SSE's Press Statement of May 3rd on BAA's recent passenger forecasts and investment programme for Stansted

BAA has trimmed its investment programme for Stansted amidst further evidence that the airport's rate of growth has gone off the boil.

Passenger numbers grew by 9% during the year ended 31 March 2005 compared to 16% in the previous 12 months and the number of aircraft using Stansted increased by just 2% over the year compared to a 7% increase in the previous year.

BAA also published its 10-year passenger forecasts and investment plans for Stansted last week (28 April 2005) where the controversial second runway project is conspicuous by its absence.

The Government's 2003 White Paper signalled a second Stansted runway by 2011/2012 but the new 10-year forecasts show that Stansted's existing runway could cope with the expected growth in demand for at least the next 10 years until 2015.

Stansted is not even expected to reach its current planning limit of 25 million passengers a year until 2008/09 whereas this was previously expected to be reached next year. The slowdown has resulted in the investment programme being trimmed from £662m to £550m.

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) Chairman, Peter Sanders said: "The slowdown at Stansted is further evidence that it is regional airports which are now seeing the most rapid growth in air travel. This allows much needed breathing space at Stansted and there is now ample time for BAA to produce a detailed airport master plan and a full environmental impact assessment before submitting any further planning applications. We must use this breathing space as an opportunity to reflect upon the whole question of further major expansion at Stansted."

SSE has also called upon BAA to publish details of its latest investment plans for Stansted. "It seems clear that the main reason for the reduced investment programme is the slowdown in growth," said Mr Sanders, "but there is also a suspicion that BAA is trying to expand Stansted on the cheap, for example, cutting its environmental mitigation and homeowner compensation budgets. The details should be published so that the public can see exactly what's going on and judge for themselves."

Recent revelations in the national media of plans by the Heathrow airlines, CBI and trades unions to combine forces to press for a third runway at Heathrow before any new runway at Stansted may add to the pressure on BAA to relegate the Stansted plans to the back burner.

BAA's Response - May 4th

"Typically, SSE draw conclusions from a BAA document in order to suit their own agenda. We have a different view."

"The facts stack up for us and our business. The truth is that these figures demonstrate an airport business that is confident in its future growth and secure in its ability to invest in the future."

There are also other considerations such as:
The Rail Infrastructure


James Tout - Herts & Essex Observer - 5 May 2005

Rail users have criticised timetable changes proposed for the West Anglia Bishop's Stortford line.

Customers of "One" Railway, which runs services between London's Liverpool Street and Cambridge, say the company deliberately failed to advertise a consultation exercise to shield itself from objections. Now finished, the process ran from Xmas until the middle of last month.

Henham resident Simon Pilcher, who gets the train from Elsenham to London, said: "I think it is sneaky. They know it will be very unpopular and have done their level best to obscure the fact that they are planning changes that will result in ridiculous overcrowding."

"I suspect they will pay no attention whatsoever to the feedback they receive, if they were going to, they would have advertised it better. It seems the whole process is designed to improve connections into the airport At the expense of residents of the region."

Fellow Elsenham commuter Nick Yeadon expressed similar sentiments, saying it had been poorly advertised and timetable changes would reduce the quality of service, especially for, people living between Bishop's Stortford and Cambridge. He said that the firm had not featured anything about the consultation in its customer magazine or in stations.

Former Bishop's Stortford Rail Travellers' Association chairman John Boughton said the organisation had asked members for their views on the changes and the Rail Passengers Committee for the East of England had also distributed leaflets on trains. He added, however, that the company could perhaps have done more to encourage responses.

A "one" spokesman defended the publicising of the consultation, saying it had been available for view on its website and was the first time a train operator had asked customers for feedback on proposed timetable changes. He said around 500 people had responded, whose views had given the company a spectrum of opinions from which it would work to formulate a new schedule this summer.

OUR COMMENT: We drew attention to these proposed changes as soon as we became aware of them. We agree that the principal beneficiary of the changes appears to be the airport who could expect to run a quarter hourly service for most of the 24 hours with fast trains stopping only at Bishop's Stortford, sometimes at Harlow, and Tottenham Hale with less chance of delays. Additional stopping trains from and to the airport would go hourly only as far as Broxbourne, and there would be a cut in the trains starting from Bishop's Stortford and going into London. A stopping service would start at Broxbourne and finish at Stratford. The inevitable result would be even more overcrowding on the Cambridge Liverpool Street trains during the peak times, especially from Bishop's Stortford onwards.

This juggling probably results from the limitations of the existing commuter main line which is attempting to service local residents and a busy airport. It looks as though the rail line is prepared to satisfy the airport's needs before those of local commuters. If this is not the case then we are entitled to an explanation as to the need for the changes. If it is the case then the sooner BAA, the rail company and the government realise that airports cannot be expanded until the infrastructure is available the better. If the infrastructure cannot be expanded to meet the need then the airport's expansion cannot go ahead.

Pat Dale

4 May 2005


SSE has issued a press statement on BAA's response to the Scoping Opinion in which Uttlesford Council, after consulting with local Parish Councils and other interested organisations, including SSE, and the National Trust, provided a list of assessments that they would wish to see included in the statutory Environmental Impact Assessment that must accompany any application for planning permission to expand to over 35 mppa. Here is the National Trust's comment.


Sandra Perry - Herts & Essex Observer - 28 April 2005

The owners of Hatfield Forest yesterday criticised BAA for refusing to assess the full environmental impact of Stansted expansion proposals.

The National Trust is demanding that the planning authority calls BAA to account over the potential effects of its growth.

It had emerged that the airport operator did not intend to meet significant elements of Uttlesford District Council's expectations in the environmental impact assessment (EIA), said trust regional director Peter Griffiths.

Uttlesford had proposed that the forest, a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and a National Nature Reserve, was monitored as part of the EIA currently being prepared for using the existing runway to its full capacity of about 35 mppa application.

Said Mr Griffiths: "BAA talks about being a responsible neighbour, but when it comes down to it, they seem only willing to do the legal minimum. We're now relying on Uttlesford to hold BAA to account for the impact of its proposals."

The Trust is concerned about the long term consequences if monitoring work does not take place. Its property manager Ade Clarke added: "BAA now seems to be arguing that this work is either unnecessary or not their responsibility. We don't agree."

Stop Stansted Expansion chairman Peter Sanders said it too wanted Uttlesford to make sure BAA provided a full picture of adverse effects of expansion and mitigation measures. "BAA is obviously anxious to keep things as tight and as narrow as possible to avoid being held responsible", he said.

BAA's progress report to the proposed scope of the EIA was reported to Uttlesford full council on Tuesday.

Yesterday a BAA sokeswoman said its EIA, still in progress, would be a full and comprehensive assessment of likely significant effects, including mitigation measures.

4 May 2005


Big Bus - At seven storeys high, £6bn to develop and with a wingspan of 80 metres
- the A 380 makes its maiden flight

Jon Henley in Toulouse - The Guardian - 28 April 2005

The cheers and tears of 30,000 spectators all but drowned out the rumble of jet engines yesterday as the world's biggest airliner lumbered smoothly – and remarkably quietly – into the skies for the first time.

The A 380 touched down on runway 321, at Toulouse's Blagnac airport just under 4 hours later, completing aviation's most keenly awaited maiden flight since the supersonic Concorde landed on the same stretch of tarmac in March 1969.

On a brilliant, cloudless spring day, Airbus executives had trouble containing their delight at the plane's performance and predicted a rosy commercial future. One of the A 380's test pilots, Jacques Rosay, said flying the double decker superjumbo was "like riding a bicycle".

But for hundreds of Airbus employees watching the flight, the moment was an emotional one. Christian Raynaud, a metal worker, had to stop filming the 10.29 a.m. take-off because his hands were trembling so much. "Isn't she amazing? High as a seven storey block of flats, and she climbs into the sky just like that. She works".

The UK BAE Systems has a 20% stake in Airbus, and the A 380's wings, which span nearly 80 metres (about 260ft) are built in Filton. Near Bristol, and Broughton, North Wales. The test plane is powered by four Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines generating, at full thrust, the power of 3,500 family cars. The fuselage is German and the tail Spanish, prompting President Chirac to describe yesterday's test flight as a "magnificent result for European industrial cooperation".

Designed to carry 550 passengers but with a maximum load of more than 800, the A 380 had only 6 people – plus 185 miles of extra wiring and 22 tonnes of sophisticated measuring gear – on board for the flight, which took it over the Pyrenees and the Atlantic.

Despite months of simulator training and thousands of mechanical and electrical testing on the ground, Mr Rosay, his fellow test pilot Claude Lelaie and their four flight test engineers were taking no chances. All wore bright orange flight suits and parachutes. But beyond a slight delay in lifting the 22 wheel undercarriage after take-off, the test went as planned.

Airbus's chief executive, Noel Forgeard, said the £150m plane had "made aviation history" today.

Roughly 30% bigger than its only rival, Boeing's 40 year old 747 jumbo, the A 380's advanced technology meant it could fly further, would burn 12% less fuel and be up to 20% cheaper to operate, the company estimated.

But it was the plane's decibel level that most impressed onlookers, gathered in their thousands around the airport perimeter. The A 380 was by some margin the quietest plane to take off or land all day.

"I'm genuinely surprised" said Charles Cuddington, managing director of Rolls Royce's airlines business, which is to supply the engines for more than half the A 380s ordered so far. "Of course we designed these engines to be quiet. But they're even quieter than we thought they'd be".

The maiden flight will be the first of 2,500 hours of flight testing before the plane enters commercial service in the second half of next year.

Airbus, which has spent 11 years and £6.8bn developing the A 380 is counting on airlines wanting a bigger aircraft to transport passengers between ever-busier hub airports.

Boeing is betting that smaller wide-bodied jets, like its long-range dreamliner, (with 416 seats) will prove more popular. Airbus reckons it need to sell 250 planes to break even. Customers so far include Emirates, which is buying 43, Quantas, 12, and Virgin Atlantic.

OUR COMMENT: Claims are already being made that this is the answer to concerns about the adverse effects of expanding air travel demand on climate change. It is claimed to use 12% less fuel and is capable of carrying neatly twice as many passengers as the rival Dreamliner (which claims it uses 20% less fuel). Even if the advent of the A 380 means half the number of flights, we need to know if it also means half the number of tonnes of carbon dioxide emitted, and less nitrogen oxides, and how this compares with today's B 747s and tomorrow's B 787s. Only then can we be sure that this does represent some improvements provided that it really does lead to fewer flights. Fewer flights means less pressure for airport expansion, less noise, and better local air quality. It also means more space to accommodate the wider wings!

Pat Dale

4 May 2005


Experts hear oil depletion fear

BBC News Online - 25 April 2005

The world's oil reserves are running out much faster than industry and governments are admitting, a conference in Edinburgh has been told. Experts refer to "peak oil", the time when oil extraction reaches its highest point and then starts to decline.

Many industry experts believe it will not occur until 2030 - but some analysts have stated publicly that it could happen by 2008 or even sooner. About 200 people from various sectors attended the event.

Dr Jeremy Leggett, a member of the UK government's Renewables Advisory Board, predicted: "Most of us who are worried about this issue would say definitely it will happen some time this decade.

"2008 might be the best guess, plus or minus two years. It's certainly a lot earlier than almost all the world is assuming at the moment."

"Oil reserves in many countries are state secrets. The biggest oil companies in the world are owned by governments."

"They have no requirement to report. There are many worrying indications that things they have been reporting are inaccurate."

Dr Leggett, a former oil geologist and Greenpeace campaigner, went on: "Modern life depends on growing supplies of cheap oil and the world economy is predicated on the assumption that that is going to continue for another couple of decades and it is not."

'Profound shock'

"There is going to be a profound economic shock and we will not be able to bring in renewable energy in time to repair the damage."

"It's just not on radar screens. It's difficult to find people talking about it anywhere. I find it very bewildering because I think the evidence is clear on this one."

"We need to take this issue as seriously as we take the war on terrorism - more so."

"It's much more dangerous, much more of a threat to our economic well-being. We need to rush through programmes to get alternative fields to save energy."

'Ripe for review'

Delegates to the conference, organised by Depletion Scotland and the Oil Depletion Analysis Centre (ODAC), also heard from ex-energy minister and former MP for Cunninghame North, Brian Wilson.

He said that Britain's current energy policy was "ripe for review" and should be a major issue in the election campaign.

Mr Wilson, who is not standing as an election candidate, said the UK was set to become a net importer of oil and gas in the next few years. He called for a balanced and indigenous energy future for Britain, embracing energy alternatives as well as conservation.

But Mr Wilson said the biggest global challenge in energy terms was persuading the United States to reduce its own oil consumption. He attacked America's "ever-increasing and ever-more profligate application."

4 May 2005


Retreat of Antarctic ice gathers pace

Fiona Harvey, Environment Correspondent - News Online - Financial Times - 22 April 2005

Glaciers in the Antarctic are retreating at an increasing rate, in what scientists said yesterday was a clear sign of climate change.

Most of the glaciers on the Antarctic peninsula, near the southernmost tip of South America, have retreated over the past 50 years as temperatures have warmed, according to a study from the British Antarctic Survey and US Geological Survey. Inland glaciers appear to be accelerating their descent to the ocean, threatening to raise the sea level.

David Vaughan, one of the authors of the study, said: "The widespread retreat of the glaciers on the Antarctic peninsula over the past 50 years was largely caused by climate change. Are humans responsible? We can't say for sure but we are one step closer to answering this important question."

The survey joins a growing body of research on climate change. A study of the Arctic last year found that the ice cap was half the thickness it was 30 years ago and a tenth smaller.

An American study in February found that warming in the world's oceans could have been caused only by human activity in increasing the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The gas, generated by burning fossil fuels, traps heat on Earth.

Nicola Saltman, a climate change policy adviser for the environmental group WWF, said: "This is another piece of evidence showing that climate change is real and happening and all governments should prioritise emissions reduction."

Of the 244 glaciers surveyed in the Antarctic, 87 per cent had retreated, by an average of 600 metres. The rate of retreat accelerated to 50m per year in the past five years, faster than at any other time in the past half century.

The survey, published today in the peer-review journal Science, is the first comprehensive study of glaciers on the coast of the Antarctic peninsula. It examined more than 2,000 aerial photographs going back to the 1940s and satellite images from the past 40 years to map the ice's retreat. Temperatures have risen by about 2° Celsius in the past 50 years, a "dramatic" rise, said Alison Cook, a co-author of the report.

Climate change has become a more contentious issue since the entry into force of the Kyoto protocol in February. While most developed nations have ratified the treaty, which requires that they cut the emissions of carbon dioxide, the US and Australia have rejected it. There are also fierce tussles over whether developing nations should be required to cut emissions.

Talks on global warming among European Union and US officials this week produced "a frank exchange of views", said Lord Whitty of the UK.

4 May 2005


Environmental measures are bad for the health of economy, claim companies
from power generators to road hauliers as they rail against the costs
and uncertainties of the new green laws

Clayton Hirst and Tim Webb - News Online - The Independent - 24 April 2005

Over the past few weeks, the executives of some of the world's biggest airlines have been locked in secret meetings in and around London. Representatives from the likes of British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, as well as lobbyists from the Confederation of British Industry, are preparing to fight back against environmental targets which they say is swamping business in the UK.

They are worried that the new regulations pose a serious threat to the future expansion of Heathrow, and with it, growth in the UK economy. After the election they plan to launch a campaign, with political backing, to champion the case for a third runway at the London airport.

Central to their argument will be the case that the "green" rules must not constrain economic growth. This will fan the flames of argument between business groups and environmentalists. Sir Digby Jones of the CBI warns that the new laws are costing business £4bn every year, putting thousands of jobs at risk. But his opponents, headed by the Environmental Industries Commission, have dismissed this as "scaremongering". They argue that some of the regulations will actually improve the competitiveness of business.

So what is the real cost of Britain going green?

In its 2003 Energy White Paper, the Government said its aim was for a "low carbon economy". This policy document reinforced tough existing environmental laws and introduced new legislation, which companies are now starting to get to grips with. This includes the "climate change levy" and the "renewables obligation", which requires electricity suppliers to buy 10 per cent of their power from renewable sources like wind by 2010 - or face a penalty.

Most contentious is the European Union's new Emissions Trading Scheme, introduced in January. If industrial companies pollute above their carbon allocation, they have to buy "credits" from greener companies. The price of carbon has doubled in the past month as generators have substituted gas (which has become very expensive) with coal. But because coal is dirtier than gas, generators must buy more carbon credits.

The Energy Intelligence Centre (EIC) estimates that, combined, the three schemes cost businesses an extra £2bn each year, or 20 per cent on their normal electricity bill. Domestic users might be paying an extra 5 to 10 per cent each year, says analyst Matthew Williamson from EIC.

The emissions scheme has been dogged by hold-ups, threats of legal action and complaints from participants. Companies were not given their individual carbon allocations until over a month after the scheme was introduced, largely due to EU delays in approving each country's proposal. Of more concern to companies is the uncertainty over what happens in 2008 when the first phase of the scheme comes to an end. The EU has not even begun consulting member countries or industry on how to set the new allocation levels. The only likelihood, says Phil Cox, chief executive of generator International Power, is that the second phase will be tougher than the first.

Tony Ward, director of the energy practice at accountants Ernst & Young, predicts that it won't be until next summer that the EU sets the next round of individual allocations. The uncertainty is damaging, he says, for companies cannot make long-term decisions about investing in technology to make their plants more efficient and so reduce their carbon bill - which is the whole point of the scheme. "The EU's aim is to change companies' behaviour and improve efficiency. But with all the uncertainty, the regulations are encouraging companies to sit on their hands and pushing them into a short-term compliance approach."

Mr Cox agrees: "These are long-term investments which need to be in place for a long time to get the payback. It's all about clarity."

Steve Radley, chief economist at the EEF, a trade body for 6,000 engineering and manufacturing companies, warns that businesses may decide to move their operations overseas, where energy is cheaper. "There will be a salami effect when companies start outsourcing more and more production outside the UK. This will create a cycle as the fewer plants there are being used, the less economic they become."

Air transport is likely to be the next sector to be included into the Europe-wide emissions trading scheme. Senior figures in Brussels are lobbying for such a move in 2008 and it is understood that Tony Blair, if re-elected, will give the plans his backing when Britain takes over presidency of the EU.

Despite the concerns over the third runway at Heathrow, the idea of emissions trading has support in the aviation industry, notably from BA, BAA, Virgin Atlantic, easyJet, Air France and KLM. They consider it better to embrace the scheme than have governments impose green taxes on the industry by stealth.

Mike Clasper, chief executive of airports operator BAA, says: "If we face climate change in a sustainable and sensible way then the industry will be healthier. The smart route to addressing this is emissions trading, because the level of charges will be determined by a big marketplace in Europe, rather than a minister's pen in the form of taxes."

The cost of emissions trading will not be insignificant, and most airlines are expected to pass it on to the consumer. Trucost, an environmental research company, calculates that based on a market price of carbon at €17.20 (£11.70) per tonne, the average ticket price in Europe would rise by 1.9 per cent. However, the low-cost airlines would be hardest hit, with ticket prices rising by up to 7.9 per cent.

Air transport, though, is lightly taxed compared to road. Successive administrations have increased the duty on fuel in an effort to shift motorists on to public transport. And the Government is now considering introducing tolls on major roads to reduce congestion further.

Road hauliers believe they have been unfairly penalised. Geoff Dossetter, external affairs director at the Freight Transport Association, says: "Obviously we have to cater for environmental needs; people don't want filthy, noisy, belching vehicles on the road. But there aren't any filthy, noisy belching vehicles anymore."

He says the central London congestion charge has "added a massive great bloody operating cost" for hauliers, and he warns of future problems with Treasury plans to introduce road user charges in 2007, which will be coupled with a rebate on fuel duty. "Such is the distrust of the Government that there is a fear the Chancellor won't deliver and offer the rebate."

While the hauliers - some of which operate on margins as low as 3 per cent - are hurting from the environmental policies, others argue that they are actually good for business.

Tony Grayling, associate director at the Institute for Public Policy Research, the Labour-friendly think-tank, says the automotive industry can use the new regulations to its advantage, particularly since energy prices, such as oil, are soaring anyway. "There is a mistaken view that environmental legislation and competitiveness are in conflict. Companies working in a carbon-constrained world can gain 'first mover advantage' by producing the least-polluting vehicles."

He points to the US as an example. Last week, General Motors revealed a shock fall in its profits, and one of the reasons cited was that the high oil price was encouraging US consumers to switch from gas-guzzling cars, typically made by GM, to fuel-efficient models made by the Japanese, such as Toyota.

This is all well and good, argues the CBI, if the environmental policies are well drafted. But Matthew Farrow, the group's head of environmental policy, argues that many rules are "rushed through, ill-thought-out and overly bureaucratic", citing the Government's botched implementation of the EU landfill directive.

Some companies' attempts to make the most of environmental legislation are frustrated by conflicting rules.

Scottish Power, one of the biggest wind farm operators in the UK, says it is getting harder - and taking longer - to secure planning permission to build new wind farms. Alan Mortimer, head of renewable policy at the company, says it can take up to five years to get clearance. "The challenge is the pace we can do it at. Planning is a time-consuming process. It's getting slightly harder because of the number of projects out there and the pressure put on planners." He compares the cumbersome and lengthy process to the US, where wind farm projects can get planning permission in less than a year.

Whether business likes it or not, environmental legislation is here to stay. Carbon now has an economic price, just like any other asset or liability on a company's balance sheet, and it is in their interests to be more energy-efficient anyway because of soaring oil prices. But the Government has not helped with the delays and confusion that have characterised the legislation, particularly the emissions trading scheme. The question facing it, claims Rob Winchester at Ernst & Young, is whether companies can use less energy and produce less waste without damaging the economy.

"Everyone wants economic growth but no one wants the waste which goes with it," he says. "That is what drives recycling."

The problems facing wind farms - they are expensive, and difficult to plan and finance - are characteristic of most green initiatives. This legislation may have benefits for business, and certainly the environment, but it doesn't come cheap.

4 May 2005

(Or those living round airports!)

CBI, unions and airlines join to fight for Heathrow expansion

Clayton Hirst - News Online - The Independent - 25 April 2005

Some of the world's largest airlines are forming a powerful coalition to fight for the controversial development of a third runway and a sixth terminal at Heathrow airport. British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and BMI, along with the foreign airlines that use Heathrow, are in the final stages of setting up the campaign group, which will be launched at the end of May.

It will be given extra firepower with backing from the Confederation of British Industry, three trade unions and senior members of the Labour Party, said a well-placed source. They will argue that Britain's economic growth would be constrained without the new runway, construction of which could start in 2013.

Known as Future Heathrow, the group will have its own campaign offices, dedicated staff and a budget expected to run into the millions. "The objective is to provide an alternative voice to the green groups that are protesting against the third runway," said an insider.

But Future Heathrow will face serious opposition from the environmental lobby, which is plotting its own campaigns after the general election. One of the biggest pressure groups is Hacan ClearSkies, which has already taken the Government to the European Court of Human Rights over night flights. It is planning to set up a new sub-group - Project Heathrow Watch - to fight a third runway.

Heathrow Watch has backing from local authorities and MPs, including: John Randall, Conservative MP for Uxbridge; Theresa May, Conservative MP for Maidenhead; Vincent Cable, Liberal Democrat MP for Twickenham; and Joan Ruddock, Labour MP for Lewisham and Deptford.

The main battleground for the rival groups will be the environmental impact of a third runway. Alistair Darling, the Transport Secretary, has said that Heathrow owner BAA can build the runway if it meets strict European Union rules on pollution levels.

The airlines have been working with Department for Transport (DfT) officials over the past few months on ways to limit future pollution levels.

But Hacan ClearSkies aims to prove that the runway would break the EU rules. John Stewart, the group's chairman, accused the DfT of "reworking the figures" to allow the third runway. "We are concerned it will make over-optimistic assumptions on how clean future planes will get. We will commission research to counter that," he said.

Backers of the third runway have suffered an early setback. A DfT study earlier this year concluded that to meet the EU pollution regulations, the Government would have to build a tunnel over a four-mile stretch of the M4 and impose a £20 congestion charge on the motorway. A DfT spokesman said: "We are considering the report with BAA and other stakeholders."

However, one ace up the airlines' sleeve could be the introduction of a European-wide emissions trading scheme. This would set up a financial market where cleaner airlines trade carbon credits with heavier polluters. This would encourage airlines to go green.

There are signs that Brussels could introduce the scheme in 2008 and the idea has the support of many airlines, which are likely to pass on the costs. Trucost, an environmental research company, calculates that this would increase ticket prices by an average of 1.9 per cent. The research, based on the market price of carbon on Friday, found that the low-cost carriers would be hardest hit, with increases of up to 7.9 per cent.

4 May 2005

BAA please note

Forthcoming EU air quality shake-up gets clearer

Environment Daily 1867 - 26 April 2005

A raft of new policies to reduce emissions of acid gases, ammonia and fine particles are expected in a European Commission thematic strategy on air pollution due at the end of June. The Commission is considering radical new approaches to regulating particles - moving away from static air quality standards that only bite in pollution hotspots.

Matti Vainio, an official at the Commission's environment directorate, outlined key aspects of the strategy last week at a workshop in the UK. The main aim, he said, would be to set new environmental goals for 2020 to underpin next year's revision of the national emission ceilings directive.

The Commission has identified three alternative "ambition levels" for capping EU emissions of key air pollutants in 2020 (see table below). The "medium" level would deliver significant cuts in ozone and particle pollution, and a reduction in areas affected by acidification and eutrophication, Mr Vainio said. Despite this, impacts would still exceed long-term goals in the EU's sixth environmental action plan.

Delivering the ambition levels would cost an extra €6-15bn per year.

However, Mr Vainio said that health benefits outweigh the costs in all scenarios.

He added that important ecosystem benefits were not included in the appraisal.

Policies under consideration include acid gas trading, vehicle emission standards for light and heavy duty vehicles, transport infrastructure charging, "stage 2" vehicle refuelling, and a review of the scope of the integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC) Directive. There could be further measures to tackle emissions from ships and farm emissions of ammonia.

Mr Vainio confirmed already well trailed plans to switch the focus of EU regulation of particle pollution from the ten micron fraction (PM10) to even smaller - and more health relevant - PM2.5 particles. But he revealed that the Commission is developing completely new approaches to particle regulation.

Instead of having to comply with a fixed particle pollution limit, as at present, every country would need to reduce average urban background levels by a set amount between 2010 and 2020. Those with higher levels would be expected to deliver a bigger percentage reduction. Particulate pollution is also a transboundary issue and the Commission wants to set complementary national ceilings on PM2.5 emissions.

On the other hand, the EU's existing PM10 air quality standard is expected to be retained. However, Environment Daily has seen a recent "non-paper" in which the Commission suggests "discarding" a tougher indicative PM10 limit for 2010. Its motivation could be linked to growing indications that particle pollution continues to exceed the existing standard in several member states.

EU emission reductions to 2020, ktonnes

Emissions in 2000Baseline in 2020'Low' ambition'Medium' ambition'High' ambition

OUR COMMENT: BAA does not see any need to measure PM2.5 in the Environmental Impact Assessment for the over 35 mppa application!

Pat Dale

24 April 2005


Ryanair's latest cut on costs: staff banned from charging phones

Andrew Clark - The Guardian - 16 April 2005

To most office workers, recharging a mobile phone barely registers among perks of nine-to-five office life. But the Irish low-cost airline Ryanair has sealed its reputation for parsimony by banning its staff from using chargers on the grounds that they amount to theft of its electricity.

The edict, which has infuriated employees and trade unions, will save the airline an estimated 1.4p for each charge. But even if all its 2,600 staff plugged in their phones at once, the bill of £28.60 would scarcely dent the company's annual profits of £154m.

Cheap, brass, and no-fuss, Ryanair has transformed Europe's aviation industry since it was founded with a single 15 seat plane operating from Waterford to Gatwick in 1985. The Dublin-based carrier now carries 24 million passengers annually to destinations as far afield as Finland and Poland, using a fleet of 86 mainly brand-new Boeing 737s.

Its success has been master-minded by a belligerent, rugby loving chief executive, Michael O'Leary, who has a taste for profanity and a mission to make air travel available to the masses, rather than to "rich fuckers". He once summed up his business philosophy by claiming that with air fares as low as 99p, passengers had little right to complain.

Ryanair's growth has been built on a "no-frills" culture taken to such extremes that unions have dubbed it the world's stingiest company.

The ban on mobile phone chargers, which was communicated to the staff in a memo, is just the latest in a string of controversial cutbacks. Staff are also expected to pay for their own uniforms, crew meals and training courses.

A Ryanair spokesman said: "It's all just general cost control, which is very important to us. It's the same as taking out reclinable seats and head covers on our planes".

Using the internet at Ryanair's head office is strongly discouraged, which is not surprising because a rash of Ryanair websites has spread across the internet for staff to write anonymously about their discontent. The bitterness and vitriol expressed by staff online has concerned the company so much that it has applied for a high court injunction to unmask the identities of employees posting messages on one such site.

Shay Cody, the deputy general secretary of the Irish trade uniot Impact said: "Ryanair are absolutely on their own - they're unique. They are extremely hostile to the workforce and any attempt to organise the workforce. It's a very, very oppressive regime there and they have extremely high staff turnover, particularly among junior pilots and cabin crew".

Such is the concern about working conditions that the International Transport Workers' Federation has urged air travellers to think hard about Ryanair's employment policies before booking tickets.

A source at one pilots' association said: "Essentially, when you look at Ryanair you've got to forget about conventional business models and think about the nature of what a "cost" is. You've got to stop thinking about employees as people who have rights - they're a resource which flows through the organisation and when you've done with them, you get rid of them".

Top of the concerns is the way Ryanair recruits. It encourages young cabin crew with offers of hefty wages, but requires them to pay as much as £2,700 upfront for training.

The pool of willing Irish workers is drying up, so the company is recruiting contract labour from agencies as far away as the Baltic states and Poland.

Pilots were recently told that in order to graduate from older planes to newer aircraft, they would have to stump up for their own retraining, leaving some complaining of "constructive dismissal", pointing out that ageing aircraft were rapidly being phased out.

Ryanair's spokesman, Peter Sherrard, dismissed staff complaints as sour grapes: "If I decide I want to be a barrister or a solicitor, I can't just walk up to the bar and say, 'Can I have a law degree please?'"

Ryanair's supporters point out that an airline which has made such successful inroads against established players such as British Airways, Air France and Lufthansa is bound to have enemies who are keen to stress its faults.

OUR COMMENT: Andrew Clark should have included the environmental costs, not paid either by Ryanair, or by any other airline!

Pat Dale

24 April 2005


BAA's Boss, Devil's Advocate or Environmental Convert?
Jeremy Warner's Outlook: BAA's solution to aviation emissions that might just satisfy the regulators

News Independent On-line - 20 April 2005

Mike Clasper's response is perhaps surprising. He wants the industry to ensure an emissions trading scheme is imposed as early as possible.

Forecast by the International Air Transport Association to lose $5bn this year, the global airline industry seems to have had more than its fair share of bad luck and challenges over the past five years, from September 11 to Sars, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to, more recently, the soaraway oil price. Yet according to Mike Clasper, chief executive of the airports operator BAA, the greatest potential threat to the future of the industry is still to come, which is the measures policy makers might impose to address the airline industry's effect on climate change.

Mr Clasper's response to this new challenge is perhaps a surprising one. Rather than bury his head in the sand and hope, as many in the industry do, that international disagreement will ensure that in practice nothing is done at all, he wants to embrace it, and despite its likely costs to the industry, find his own solutions. At a conference on climate change in Brussels yesterday, he urged the industry to be much more active in ensuring that an emissions trading scheme is imposed on aviation at the earliest possible opportunity.

Oh do shut up, many in the industry will be whispering under their breath, or you'll only attract attention. Up until now, policy makers have largely ignored aviation, preferring instead to concentrate their efforts on electricity generating, manufacturing and household emissions. With the airline industry still collectively deep in the mire, the last thing it wants is to have a shed load of environmental costs imposed on top of everything else.

But actually BAA's self-flagellation is a perfectly rational approach to the problem. Mr Clasper says he's doing it as a good global citizen, which must fill him with a warm glow just to think about how he's helping save the planet. But investors demand something more, and the reality is that unless the industry sets its own house in order on climate change, then eventually the bureaucrats will get round to doing it instead. When they do, the solution will undoubtedly be a more heavy-handed stultifying one.

Aviation wasn't included in Kyoto - mainly because the Americans, who eventually rejected Kyoto anyway, couldn't be persuaded to agree on it. Yet it is one of the heaviest polluters, accounting for 2 per cent of global CO2 emissions.

Aviation is also responsible for other harmful emissions, and because it emits at altitude as it were, it may account for a much higher proportion of the global warming effect - perhaps as much as 5 per cent according to some estimates. More worrying still, it continues to grow at an astronomic pace, notwithstanding its apparent inability to make any money.

Airline travel just seems to get cheaper and cheaper. Quite a bit of this relative price deflation is being achieved at the expense of the environment. Even the second-home brigade, reliant as they are on low-cost operators to ferry them to and from their overseas bolt holes, are beginning to realise it cannot go on.

True enough, the airline industry has been largely ignored to date, but given its projected growth, it's already on the radar screen. Policy makers are rattling their sabres, and Mr Clasper may be right to think the public are behind them. Britain has imposed an Air Passenger Duty which every Budget time the Chancellor threatens to raise, hoping he can pass it off as a desirable environmental measure. The EU now permits tax on aviation fuel for transport between any two or more member states, while the French and German governments have called for a tax on international air travel, justified on environmental grounds, to help fund overseas aid.

As Mr Clasper points out, the choice is between the blunt instrument of an externally imposed system of taxes, whose end result would be to clobber demand and stifle growth, or the more aesthetically pleasing solution of emission permits, which could be freely traded. This would allow the more fuel-efficient airlines to continue to grow while ensuring that the polluters pay for their environmental costs.

But if we in Europe do it, while America and Asia doesn't, surely we only make ourselves even less competitive? As with all environmental initiatives, somebody, unfortunately, has to lead the way. Mr Clasper seems to have grasped this, even if others have yet to see the merits of being called a good global citizen. Doing nothing and hoping the regulators don't notice no longer amounts to a strategy.

24 April 2005


Commission Proposes EU Civil Protection Boost
Transatlantic climate relationship "is thawing"

Environment Daily 1863 - 20 April 2005

EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas claimed clear signs of a rapprochement between Europe and America on the vexed issue of climate change policy on Wednesday, following high-level talks between EU and US officials. "We moved beyond discussing technological innovation," he said in a statement. "The results of these talks could well mark the beginning of a new phase of US-EU cooperation on climate change", including on international controls post-2012.

Earlier in the week, Mr Dimas repeated now familiar EU calls on the USA to re-engage in the multilateral policy making process (America has renounced the Kyoto protocol), likening the transatlantic debate up to now to "navel gazing". The big surprise is that he has felt able to claim publicly that America's attitude has changed.

In a speech delivered in Washington, D.C. on Monday, the commissioner stressed that the "burning issue" was what to do after Kyoto protocol emission targets expire in 2012. He called on the USA to recognise the need for a multilateral approach, not only because it is the world's largest carbon emitter but also because of Europe and America's "common responsibility" to show international leadership and to mobilise leading developing countries to participate after 2012.

Meanwhile, further details of ongoing UK-led efforts to re-engage America in the international climate change debate emerged on Tuesday. An advisor to British prime minister Tony Blair said that G8 leaders would be asked to demonstrate "some kind of consensus" when they meet in July.

Britain has already organised preparatory meetings on climate change science and between G8 environment and development ministers The UK wants G8 leaders to agree on a "statement on the science" and a "package of measures", Henry Derwent told a conference on climate change in Brussels.

In another related development, the UN framework convention on climate change has begun posting on the internet information on a key meeting in May that is expected to kick off - albeit informally - international talks about climate change policies post-2012 .

Important Footnote

33,000 a Year Killed

Gary Jones - News On-line Mirror - 19 April 2005

AIR pollution cuts nearly seven months off our life expectancy, a study reveals.

People living near major roads in cities come off worst, losing up to 8.7 months of life.

Those in rural areas suffer far less, with life expectancy reduced by five-and-a-half months.

A major drive to reduce the impact of pollution - which contributes to 33,000 premature deaths each year - is to be announced after the election.

Dr Michael Krzyzanowski, of the World Health Organisation, said pollution-related ill health costs the UK between £4.8billion and £14.3billion a year. He added: "On average the loss of life is 6.9 months, though in other countries it is considerably higher.

"If anything, Britain is one of the leading countries with regard to research and pollution management, but obviously more can always be done."

Nearly 10 times as many people die each year from breathing contaminated air than from road accidents.

The Government is committed to bringing the life expectancy lost by pollution down to 4.9 months by 2010.

More than 90 per cent of early deaths are caused by tiny particulates causing heart failure.

They are emitted by traffic - particularly diesels - industry and domestic heating.

Others are due to respiratory diseases caused by ozone, produced when sunlight reacts with pollutants from vehicle exhausts. About 310,000 Europeans a year die, with life expectancy cut by 8.7 months. Treating diseases caused by pollution costs Europe £110billion.

WHO and the European Commission are working on the Clean Air for Europe initiative.

OUR COMMENT: Those who live in rural - and urban - areas round airports are also at risk, depending on the traffic, both air and land.

Pat Dale

24 April 2005


The Herts and Essex Observer, in this weeks edition, has questioned the Parliamentary candidates for the Hertford and Bishop's Stortford constituency on their view of Stansted Airport expansion. Here are their answers, in alphabetical order.

Question: How much should Stansted Airport expand?

Peter Hart - Green Party
Not an inch. We oppose expansion of airports. The aviation industry pays no tax on fuel, no VAT on ticketing or aircraft and no climate change levy. This equates to an effective subsidy of around £9billion a year.

A system of eco-taxes where "the polluter pays" would make air transport reflect its true environmental cost. We will seek a Europe wide tax on aviation fuel, introduce a UK tax on emissions from domestic flights, increase air passenger duty, ban night flying and invest in revitalising rail transport.

Richard Henry - Labour
Expansion of Stansted to 25 mppa is effectively a done deal, since permission was given by Uttlesford District Council in 2002. Further expansion is however, another matter. Stansted is of national and regional significance, as well as a major local employer.

If elected, my job is to ensure that all stakeholder views on Stansted are properly heard and represented, including local groups, local councils, BAA and government bodies. As a Government MP I will use my influence to press for clear answers on infrastructure issues and ensure that local voices are heard, not just the big players.

Debbie Le May - Veritas
Stansted Airport has now been established as London's third airport, and is convenient for those who wish to fly to the continent. However, the proposed expansion plans are likely to ruin a beautiful corner of the English countryside and will have a significant impact on the area, including bringing more people in to seek jobs.

Expansion has been declared unlawful by the High Court, but still the government persists in its attempts. If elected I will fight the government's plans at Stansted and will push for a full investigation of the proposals to build another London airport in the Thames Estuary.

James Luca - Lib-Dem
The airport provides jobs and investment for the local community. There is room here for a thriving airport. There is no room for another Heathrow. It would be bad for the area, bad for the people and bad for the environment.

The plans to build another runway are unnecessary. The airlines don't want it, the government won't pay for it and BAA can't afford it. The current runway is not used to full capacity. There is room for limited expansion up to the current agreed planning limit. I will continue to fight to ensure there is no new runway.

Mark Prisk - Conservative
I have actively campaigned against a second runway at Stansted and will continue to do so. The scheme would be disastrous environmentally and, with very low unemployment locally doesn't make economic sense. Indeed, most major airlines do not wish to come to Stansted.

A Conservative government gives us the best chance to stop a second runway. It would not allow any cross-subsidy between the other airports and Stansted and would ensure that no runway development would be sanctioned, unless the UK is a full participant in an emissions trading regime, including the aviation industry. Further, a Conservative government will ask BAA plc to review its compensation arrangements to be more generous to those people whose homes are blighted by proposed airport development.

David Sodey - UK Independence
I believe that the airport is nowhere near its current capacity so cannot understand why any expansion is necessary and shall be opposing it. If it is necessary, the planning must be a local issue and permission can only be granted by local councils.

Any land used should be purchased in the normal manner, not under compulsory purchase orders and any cost of additional infrastructure should be born by the airport developers not local residents.

22 April 2005


Services from Cambridge and Stansted Airport were recently taken over by "One Railway" - the Company wishes to change the timetables and there is a consultation on these changes that finishes this Sunday, 24 April

The changed timetables are available online at www.onerailway.com/offers where you need to type in "wa-timetable" in the search box

We have only recently become aware of these proposed changes as they have not been widely advertised. It also appears that all replies have to be returned by email, which makes responding difficult for many people. It is difficult to compare all the proposed changes with the existing service but it appears that:

* The service from Cambridge to Liverpool Street is more or less the same.

* The Stansted Express is now every quarter of an hour and every train stops at Bishop's Stortford, Harlow and Tottenham Hale.

* The stopping trains from Bishops Stortford to Liverpool Street appear to have been withdrawn. There appear to be some going to Stratford instead.

Our conclusion is that if you are a regular traveller or commuter you should study the tables.

The changes may mean that journeys from Bishop's Stortford and stations nearer London will be either less convenient or more crowded, as there is no indication that anymore coaches will be added to the main Cambridge or Stansted trains. It would appear that these commuter services may be adversely affected by the changes and that they have been made in order to ensure that Stansted Airport has a better service.

The Eastern Rail Passenger's Committee has sent in detailed comments, but if you can find time, have a look at the "one" website and see if these changes will affect you.

Objections and comments should be sent to watimetable.consultation@onerailway.com by 24 April

Pat Dale

20 April 2005


Congratulations to Ian Hobson, SSE's Campaign Office Manager, on his
heroic fund-raising achievement - here follows his own account

25th London Marathon 2005 - 17 April 2005

Ian Hobson with his son Mark after they had both completed the London Marathon My First Marathon

Getting There
The day started with the alarm going off at 6am! Put the running kit on, warm clothes over the top, good high carbohydrate breakfast, drink plenty of water, and then the last minute check on energy gels, Vaseline (most important!), and all the other things needed for the day. Then, into the car for the short trip to Bishops Stortford to catch the 7:08 train to Liverpool Street and then via underground to Tower Hill for the short rail journey to Maze Hill. Once at Maze Hill station we followed the crowds of competitors and their supporters to the start points at Blackheath. We were in plenty of time but as my son and I were starting at different start points we had to split up and make our way to the appropriate area – he to the red start and me to the blue.

The final preparations - take off outer clothing and pack this away in a special bag, apply copious amounts of Vaseline to thighs and any other areas which might chafe, make sure the supply of energy gel sachets were in my bum bag, and hand my baggage in to the baggage lorry. I was ready to go so off to my designated start section to await the actual start. I did not hear the start from where we were but there was a small movement of the runners and then nothing for several minutes until there was a slow drift towards the start line which gained momentum until, 12 mins after the start gun I crossed the start line.

The Race
My race plan was to do 10-minute miles so I settled down to this pace, checking the progress on my watch as the miles passed by. The first few miles were really easy and it was possible to really enjoy and soak up the atmosphere of the event. After 2 hours of running I crossed Tower Bridge and turned right towards the Isle of Dogs and the half way point just beyond 13 miles. Still feeling fine at this point. By the time I got to 17 miles I could definitely feel the onset of severe pains in my calves but worse, as it turned out later, was the pain building up in my right knee. Had a couple of brief walks around the 18 to 20 mile points which got longer and more difficult to get back into a run as the miles progressed and as the pain in my right knee got worse. By the 24 mile point I decided that I just couldn't run any more so began to walk as fast as I could and it was at around this point that I teamed up with a lady who was also suffering from a knee problem. We walked through the 25 mile point, turned right at Westminster bridge and decided to have another go at running along Birdcage Walk but after a couple of hundred yards we reverted to walking when the pain got too great and decided to walk to the point where we could see the finishing line and run the last 200 yards or so. We ran through the finish and collected the medal. Elation!!!

Overall Impressions
My main impression of the day was the crowd and the carnival atmosphere. The support was absolutely incredible throughout the 26.2 miles of the course. I can't remember a single point along the course where there were no crowds and I heard nothing except positive encouragement. There were live bands, disco music, pubs with loudspeakers, people blowing horns, good natured comments on the fancy dress runners, but most of all was just the general atmosphere of encouragement and good will. From the SSE point of view there were a surprising number of people who shouted support so I suppose our message must be getting through. The organisation was fantastic with drink stations every mile, showers to cool runners off at four points around the course, regular toilet facilities (which, unlike Paula, I had no need of!) and Lucozade Sport available at several points. The Championship timing device, which every runner has tied to one of their shoes was fantastic in providing each runner with a personal elapsed time and times at 10K intervals around the course. Baggage transfer from the start point to the finish was excellent.

Would I do it again?
At this present moment I feel that I have got this marathon bug out of my system, but who knows? As I write the marathon was only yesterday and already I am thinking that if I had not had the calf injury in mid February and had managed to do more long distance runs to build up the stamina in my legs, I could have managed a much better time. So, as in says on the official finishers tee shirt:

"Never again … Until the next time
It's what happens after Marathons"

Marathon Results for Ian Hobson
Runner No: 22720
Position: 24940
FINISH: 5:02:22

17 April 2005


The Herts & Essex newspaper has embarked on another series of questions, this time to the prospective Parliamentary candidates. The first group questioned are those standing for the Saffron Walden constituency. Three questions were asked: How much should Stansted airport expand? How anti-social behaviour and youth crime should be tackled, and the prioritising of rural concerns.

Here are the answers to Question 1 on Stansted airport, candidates in alphabetical order.

Ray Brown - English Democrat
Stansted Airport is expected to reach maximum capacity for its single runway in 2012. Existing usage is mainly short-hop European flights by airlines such as easyJet and Ryanair. It is not a major "changeover" airport such as Heathrow where continental flights meet. If the growth envisaged is mostly for these cheap flight operators, they surely should be encouraged to develop on the dozen or so existing runways across the country, spreading the load, benefiting more locations, easing traffic and shortening road travel times for passengers. Boeing 737 aircraft do not require massive runway systems and neither do the people of Uttlesford.

Trevor Hackett - Veritas
I believe that the current permission for 25 mppa should be the limit to expansion of Stansted. The environmental impacts of increasing this number must not be taken lightly. If the cross-subsidy of Stansted by profits from Heathrow were to be prohibited, we sould see a difference at Stansted. Excluding taxes, you can fly from Stansted to Newquay for 99p. Where is the logic in this? If taxes on aviation fuel matched those motorists paid, the number of passenger movements would drop. I am not against flying, but it must not be at the cost of the environment.

Sir Alan Haselhurst - Conservative
Stansted Airport should only expand within its present boundaries. I am totally opposed to a second runway, which would have a devastating effect on the quality of the local environment. It is not needed for the purpose of creating jobs, because unemployment in this area is virtually non-existent. Nor is large-scale expansion wanted by the principal airlines which see their future at Heathrow. Not even the low-cost carriers will be keen if they have to pay the true costs of expansion. A Conservative government will not allow cross-subsidy between Heathrow and Stansted and will impose stiffer safeguards to protect Stansted's environment.

Swantantra Nandanwar - Labour
If we can mange with one runway, then there is no need for further expansion and BAA has not absolutely proven the business case for a second runway. It is a fact that there is an increasing demand for economy flights and we can't stop people going on holidays. We also recognise that the M11 corridor will be a significant growth area and will have an important part to play in prosperity of the region. We must also remember that Stansted employs a significant number of its workforce locally. BAA must come up with better compensation packages and include all those affected by the impact of noise and nuisance.

Elfreda Tealby-Watson - Lib-Dem
There should be no second runway at Stansted or anywhere else in the South-East. Expansion would be an environmental disaster. Stansted doesn't even make economic sense. It relies on profits from parking and shopping to compensate for losses made on cheap flights. Labour and Conservatives say airports should grow to meet demand, and our current MP bizarrely proposes a brand new airport in the Thames Estuary. Limited growth could be met at existing UK regional airports, which would avoid people flying short distances into Stansted to take advantage of cheap flights. Aviation taxes should properly reflect pollution from planes.

Barry Tyler - UK Independence Party

Cheap flights cost the earth says the SSE poster. Sipping our ice-free Ryanair G & T with contorted legs, do we give a thought about the gases belching out in proximity to the stratosphere? Are we mindful of the misery inflicted upon Thaxted, Little Hallingbury and dozens of other communities? If noise and CO2 pollution are unimportant, then why bother with exhaust systems on our puny cars? UKIP will promote refernedums on this and a range of social issues, returning democracy to England. Local politicians can only give lip service to their opposition of a second runway. In the meantime, Gordon, do what you are good at, raise yet another tax. This time on aviation fuel.

OUR COMMENT: Not much joy for either BAA or Alistair Darling! Almost total rejection of a second runway though some evasion about full use of the existing runway.


Prescott: Stansted is key to expansion plans

Hollie Darken - Herts & Essex Observer - 14 April 2005

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has reaffirmed the Government's commitment to housing expansion in the East of England during a campaign visit – and admits Stansted Airport is key to development in the M11 corridor.

The senior politician arrived on the Prescott Express tour bus in Harlow on Thursday to look around the town's new NHS Walk-in Centre.

But he was greeted by protesters from Stop Harlow North campaign and quizzed by journalists on plans for around half a million new dwellings in the region, amid concerns about infrastructure and loss of countryside.

And when questioned about Stansted's part in it all, Mr Prescott told the Observer: "Stansted has been growing for a good while now and we desperately need more aircraft space – and as the airport grows, it brings in more people and more jobs and so there is a connection between the airport and more housing, and a need for it as well. I do not want to say to people "you are not going to have anywhere to live", people want to live near their families and I don't think people want to be told "why not move to Hull?" instead".

He said he understood the concerns about the number of new homes planned – the East of England Assembly had rejected 18,000 for the M11 corridor – but revealed that an independent assessment would determine the final figure.

"Nobody doubts we need more houses, it's the amount we are talking about."

And in the meantime the Government was taking a "long term response" to infrastructure with more roads and schools planned and Harlow's walk-in centre demonstrated they were already putting that infrastructure into place.

Asked what he thought about turning the region into "Prescottshire" - a phrase coined by our sister paper, the Hertfordshire Mercury - the Deputy Prime Minister laughed.

"It's the first time I've heard that phrase" he said. "But I am not getting into my bulldozer and concreting over everywhere."

"We are going to build on less land than before because density has increased, and on brownfield sites. If we have responsible growth we can keep our wonderful countryside and give our people the chance to live near their families."

OUR COMMENT: John Prescott says that we desperately need more "aircraft space". He forgets that aircraft actually fly, and that if airport expansion and air travel continues at the rate proposed by the government, air space will be desperately needed - no White Paper can create more room in the sky!

He also forgets that the Sustainability Appraisal of his expansion Plans for the East of England makes it clear that the number of houses proposed is just not sustainable, either in terms of water supplies or energy requirements. It also points out that there has been no attempt to assess whether all these "Prescott families" would actually benefit from being obliged to settle in the East of England as opposed to the rest of the UK.

The original East of England Plan included enough houses for the children of todays' parents and a reasonable number of new arrivals. There should be no question of local children having to settle away from their families. The problem is one of affordability. Is the solution to getting more affordable houses really to build three times more than are needed? Surely John Prescott should first spend more time devising a policy on the provision of a sufficient number of reasonably priced houses.

He should also ask why, for instance, Londoners would wish to come and live in the East of England in preference to elsewhere? At the moment partly the availability of work, but also because the East of England is still a pleasant place to live in. Will they still wish to come and live in yet another urban conglomerate near to a major airport?

Pat Dale

17 April 2005


Ryanair and BAA end airport row

Andrew Clark - The Guardian - 14 April 2005

Ryanair has reached an out-of-court settlement with BAA over charges at Stansted which last year prompted the Irish low-cost airline to describe the airport operator as "a bunch of overcharging rapists".

BAA has agreed to cut its levy on fuel at the Essex airport from 68p to 41p per litre. In return, Ryanair is to pay back the £1m of landing fees it had refused to handover, raising a threat of High Court action.

The Irish airline said: "This agreement will last until the next regulatory review starts in April 2008".

The confrontation had prompted suggestions that Ryanair could scale back its services at Stansted, where it handles 12.5 million passengers annually.

The Irish airline objected to paying above the odds for fuel. BAA justified its surcharges on the grounds that it had invested in high-tech facilities to deliver petrol to aircraft. Ryanair claimed this cost had already been recovered by BAA but that the fuel levy was still being imposed.

Ryanair's outspoken chief executive, Michael O'Leary, has long been a critic of BAA's management of Stansted, accusing it of building "little Noddy trains" and "Taj Mahal terminals" which were not suitable for budget carriers.

17 April 2005


Competition is fierce in the low cost airline market

BBC News - 14 April 2005

Budget airline Ryanair is planning to set up a new European base, it says.

It plans to spend more than 250m euros (£170.4m) on a hub at Luebeck Airport, near Hamburg, for up to four new Boeing 737 jets, operating 10 routes.

Up to 2,000 jobs would eventually be created in the Luebeck region and would generate up to two million passengers a year through the airport, Ryanair said.

The plans depend on a deal with New Zealand investment group Infratil which wants to buy the airport.

New network

A conditional purchase agreement with current owners, the City of Luebeck, is yet to be completed but is expected to be signed in a few months' time.

The Dublin-based carrier, which already operates flights from Luebeck to London Stansted, would run a network of low-fare scheduled international routes to the UK and continental Europe.

Ryanair deputy chief executive Michael Carley said the new base demonstrated the success of the group's policy of using low-cost secondary airports.

"Ryanair looks forward to working with Infratil to realise this ambition and to revolutionise air traffic at Luebeck Airport," he said.

About 500,000 passengers are thought to have used the airport last year with about 95% booked on Ryanair flights.

The increase in passenger traffic would lift Luebeck into the top 10 international airports in Germany.

Infratil already works with Ryanair at Glasgow Prestwick International Airport, which it now wholly owns.

17 April 2005


'Brits spend more abroad than tourists here'
The National Trust calls for action

Life Style Extra - 15 April 2005

British sunseekers spend £17 billion more abroad than visitors to the UK do here, reveals a new report published today.

The National Trust is calling for action to encourage more people to holiday at home in a bid to bridge the alarming 'tourism gap'.

The report 'Tourism: Policy from Practice', was launched today by the Trust's director-general Fiona Reynolds as she visited Boscastle in Cornwall, which was devastated by flash floods last August.

It shows the spending deficit has increased almost five fold since 1997.

The report says domestic tourism is vital in sustaining local communities throughout the country.

Drawing on the Trust's experience as a major tourism provider, it showcases the ways in which sustaining high quality, natural, cultural and historical assets is fundamental to the continued appeal of the domestic tourism sector.

Ms Reynolds said: "North Cornwall illustrates what is true for so many other parts of Britain - tourism success and economic viability are intimately related to the maintenance of a high quality environment. Wider tourism policies would do well to recognise this."

The tourism deficit has grown dramatically in the last decade to £17bn driven largely by the rise in UK residents taking foreign holidays - especially short breaks.

Brits contribute approximately £60bn to the UK domestic tourism sector compared to £12bn from international visitors.

Tony Burton, the Trust's director of policy and strategy, said: "Policies to encourage UK residents to commit more of their holiday spend within the UK are a priority."

"This means focusing more marketing attention on this crucial audience and abandoning unnecessary airport expansion programmes in favour of developing the domestic short breaks market."

"Crucially it also means recognising that a high quality environment defines the UK's appeal as a tourism destination and is central to the economic future of many rural and urban communities."

The National Trust has cast serious doubts over the Government's proposals for airport expansion with the launch of the 'Blue Skies' report.

The report highlights the potential to manage demand for air travel by promoting holidays at home.

Many Trust properties, including Charlecote Park, Leith Hill and Calke Abbey, are in danger of permanent damage from expansion plans.

The Trust is calling on the Government to recognise the importance of domestic tourism as a key to achieving a more sustainable aviation policy.

Better promotion of opportunities to holiday at home will not only reduce the damaging impacts of aviation but also help regenerate local economies and communities.

With about 13 million visitors to its pay-for entry properties and an estimated 50 million visits to its coast and countryside properties the Trust has a significant role in supporting the tourism-related activity underpinning many local economies and is committed to promoting a sustainable tourism sector.

The report and the Trust's earlier Valuing our Environment study demonstrate 40% of the jobs created directly through tourism rely on a high quality environment and that this increases to 60-70% in rural areas.

Said Mr Burton: "The link between a quality environment, tourism and jobs is manifest - particularly in rural areas."

"Foot and mouth should have been all the proof we needed, but the wider role of tourism is still not being properly recognised in either current debates about tourism or the public policy framework that supports it."

17 April 2005


Manchester gets some quieter aircraft

Manchester Evening News - 14 April 2005

Quiet jet is a dream come true

A NEW fleet of environmentally friendly aircraft is to fly from Manchester Airport.

The £65m Boeing 787 Dreamliner has been designed with the latest technology to reduce engine noise and cut fuel consumption.

First Choice Airways, which is based at the airport, will be the first UK airline to operate the aircraft and expects to take delivery of six planes within four years.

The airline says the new aircraft will reduce disturbance caused to residents who live close to the airport.

Passengers will also benefit as the 787 can fly non-stop to a range of destinations from Manchester, including the west coast of the US and the Far East.


The Boeing 787 Dreamliner also boasts bigger seats, wider aisles, larger windows, better air quality and more head room than the other commercial jets in the sky at present. The planes will offer the best in-flight entertainment and the possibility of using mobile telephones.

Bill Glover, environment performance director at Boeing Commercial Aeroplanes, said: "There will be reduced emissions and reduced noise throughout the life cycle of this plane."

"It will be a lighter plane and the improved aerodynamics means we need a smaller engine, which is going to be quieter. We have also added new technology to the engine, which improves it even further. This means the plane will get up and away more quickly and quietly."

Chris Browne, managing director of First Choice Airways, said: "We believe a flight should be enjoyed rather than endured and these planes will mean our customers will be able to fly in comfort."

"They will also offer environmental benefits with improved fuel efficiency, lower emissions and reduced noise."

"Not everyone wants to go to just Spain and Portugal for two weeks. Passengers are getting more adventurous and these planes will also offer people the chance to go to more long-haul destinations from Manchester, such as the Far East, South America, the west coast of America and South Africa."

Should more airlines be encouraged to use more environmentally-friendly aircraft? Have your say:
Submit your comments www.manchesteronline.co.uk/men/news/comments/form.html?story_id=154868

OUR COMMENT: No offers for this marginally greener plane from budget airlines! It claims a 20% reduction in fuel use and therefore lower emissions, especially CO2, though it seems that NO2 reductions will not be on offer. It is reputed to be much quieter but how much will depend on air traffic management at Manchester.

Pat Dale

17 April 2005


12 April 2005

Members of the Stansted airport noise monitoring team, including a representative from air traffic control, were available to answer questions on April 12th in Saffron Walden Town Hall. The visit was opened by Sir Alan Haselhurst.

A large map of the area was on show and Saffron Walden now has its own leaflet, the "Saffron Walden Aircraft Noise Briefing". Laptop maps were available to demonstrate the tracks of aircraft taking off and landing at the airport and the work of the Flight Evaluation Unit was explained as well as the apparently very successful management policies of BAA which keep the airlines operating along flight paths and at heights that successfully reduce the noise to the lowest possible level. This is called "mitigation" of noise annoyance.

No one would deny that BAA has achieved reductions in noise, BUT the fact remains that aircraft have very noisy engines, and even with all airlines well disciplined and operating in the correct way most of the time, living round an airport remains very noisy with all the disadvantages of a noisy environment.

The more flights, the worse the situation. BAA cannot expect residents to welcome even more noise. No one has yet designed a quiet aircraft and we are told by designers that a fundamental change in shape would be required to secure a significant noise reduction, AND it is equally important to reduce engine emissions. High tech solutions are a long way off and may be impossible.

We were also told that most aircraft flying over Saffron Walden and the surrounding villages would be those arriving but they should all be over 5,500 feet and therefore noise was not and would not be a problem.

However, we know that conversation is usually interrupted when an overflying plane creates a noise of 70 decibels or over, a situation generally agreed to be annoying /distracting. It is our experience that this often happens when aircraft are flying over in this Saffron Walden area and we are at the same time trying to enjoy our leisure moments in our gardens. There is also general agreement that this annoyance would not happen if these planes were flying at heights of over 4000 feet. There is therefore a disagreement between what we are told should be happening and what we believe happens!

We decided that we should keep a record of flights during a number of days in the summer and record how many were noisy enough to interfere with conversation in the garden. We shall then check with BAA as to the height of the planes – if this information can be supplied.

Offers of help with this survey to Pat Dale at p.m.dale@btinternet.com

Pat Dale

10 April 2005


Smelly Complaints Prompt Air Testing

Hollie Darken - Herts & Essex Observer - 7 April 2005

Complaints about the smell of aircraft fuel even in the farthest corners of Uttlesford have prompted the district council to invest in additional air quality monitoring systems. The go-ahead has been given for an extra £13,000 to buy the equipment which can specifically detect aircraft pollutants in the atmosphere.

The Council's principal environmental health officer Will Cockerell said complaints from the public had led to the decision to further investigate just what was in the Uttlesford air. "We get complaints from people living close to Stansted Airport who are affected by smells coming from aircraft revving up at the end of the runway and from people living some distance away."

"I can understand somebody living close by experiencing fumes, but we have had people living miles away complaining about it – in Manuden, Great Easter – there doesn't seem any logic to the complaints so we need to get an understanding" he said.

"This equipment will give us the opportunity to do some airport specific monitoring and to see whether we can detect pollutants and whether it's due to wind direction or it's happening all the time."

At Thursday's resources committee, members agreed to increase the capital programme for the coming year to enable the enhanced level of monitoring to take place. The new equipment will be installed in the existing mobile air quality monitoring station at Takeley Four Ashes junction. It measures hydrocarbons and can detect the specific chemical trimethylbenzene, which is said to be associated with aircraft engine emissions.

Mr Cockerell said the intention was for it to be positioned at sites where complaints had been received. "We will move it around from place to place and are even looking to put it under the flight path of arriving aircraft to see whether pollutants actually reach the ground."

OUR COMMENT: Uttlesford Council and especially Will Cockerell are to be congratulated on purchasing extra air quality monitoring equipment. BAA are responsible for monitoring inside the airport and should be providing a service outside as well but to date have not completed a full year of monitoring, necessary to establish a reliable annual mean in order to see if the regulations and European Directive on Air Quality are being breached.

At the time of the application to expand to 25 mppa there were disagreements between the predictions of air quality breaches and the results from a very limited amount of actual monitoring that BAA carried out at the time. As we know, predictions of breaches in the White Paper were dismissed by the Government as preventable. Stansted has never had a full air quality assessment that we are aware of - BAA should carry one out as part of their Environmental Assessment of the effects of further expansion on the environment. Meantime we need all the independent evidence that can be recorded throughout the year.

Air Quality is one of the most important issues for local residents. Monitoring equipment is needed to make sure that safe levels are not exceeded, a situation damaging to health. In the case of the airport this means that the volume of traffic that produces the emissions, aircraft and airport related traffic, must be kept within the limits that preserve air quality within the levels that have been set by European and UK law. This principle has been accepted at Heathrow, though the practical difficulties of reducing excessive emissions is going to be very difficult. The same situation must not happen at Stansted - future predictions must be realistic and not dependent on the expectations of future "technical fixes".

Pat Dale

10 April 2005


UK stuck in reverse gear on greenhouse gases

Environment Daily 1850 - 1 April 2005

UK greenhouse gas emissions rose in 2004 for the second year running, provisional figures showed on Thursday. The 1.5% increase took emissions to 12.6% below 1990 levels, raising serious concerns over whether Britain will - as has previously been assumed - meet its Kyoto protocol commitment to a 12.5% emissions cut by 2008-12.

The news is embarrassing for the UK government. It comes only ten days after first estimates of 2003 emissions of the main greenhouse gas (carbon dioxide) had to be revised upwards from 1.5% to 2%. It also puts even further out of reach the government's aim of achieving a 20% cut in CO2 by 2010

Britain's loss of control over its greenhouse gas emissions could also be problematic for EU partners. The European environment agency warned several years ago that the bloc was relying too much on over-achievement against Kyoto targets by the UK and Germany to enable its overall -8% emissions target to be met. Both are now struggling to meet targets.

10 April 2005


With the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol closing in 2012, the EU has launched discussions on its future long-term strategy to fight global warming. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transport and making continued use of market-based mechanisms such as emissions trading are among the main elements of the proposed strategy. But the first and biggest challenge will be to draw all major world emitters - including the US and China - into a binding pollution-cutting scheme.

Next Steps

1 July 2005 - 31 December 2005: UK's EU Presidency expected to give new impetus to fighting climate change

6-8 July 2005: G8 summit under UK Presidency to address implementation of low-carbon technologies

July -September 2005: Commission to produce a communication on aircraft emissions

28 November - 9 December 2005: conference of the parties to the UNFCC (COP-11), Montreal, Canada

On 9 February 2005, the Commission proposed a strategy for the EU's Future climate change policy after 2012 entitled "Wining the battle against climate change". The strategy suggests focusing on the following "core elements":

Persuading all major world emitters to commit to a binding scheme, including the United States and rapidly emerging economies such as China and India

Including more sectors in emissions reductions, including transport (aviation, maritime) as well as tackling the deforestation which increases global warming in some regions

Promoting climate-friendly technologies

Market-based instruments such as the EU Emissions Trading Scheme

Adaptation policies in Europe and globally to deal with the Inescapable impacts of climate change

The summit of EU leaders on 22-23 March 2005 only agreed to flexible targets for 2020. The summit conclusions stated that a 15-30% cut in greenhouse gas emissions "should be considered" for 2020, but only "in the light of future work on how the objective can be achieved, including the cost-benefit aspect". At the insistence of Germany and Austria, heads of state and government did not mention any precise targets after 2020, refusing to take on the 60- 80% cuts proposed by environment ministers for 2050.

5 April 2005


Gatwick plans opposed

Press Release - 5 April 2005 - from the opposition group to Gatwick Airport Expansion - GACC

GACC has now had the opportunity to study the new Gatwick master plan.

The plan over the next ten years or so to increase the number of passengers from 31 million a year at present to 45 million, by more planes and bigger planes (including a dozen huge new A380's a day), gives rise to serious environmental concerns.

Although GACC in principle supports making full use of the existing runway within the present airport boundary, the new passenger forecast, nearly 50% above the present level, is bound to mean more noise, more pollution and in particular a substantial increase in road traffic.

We welcome the progress being made in encouraging airport staff to use public transport, but it is disappointing that the master plan contains no proposals to encourage passengers to leave their cars at home. A 50% increase in passenger cars is bound to put great pressure on motorways and local roads.

GACC remains adamantly opposed to any new runway.

We are appalled that the master plan shows the new runway so close to Crawley bringing the airport to the doorstep of 100,000 people. The new airport boundary is shown only 100m from the edge of Crawley residential area. The new runway would be only 400m away from the houses.

If it were ever built, the new runway would make Gatwick bigger than Heathrow at present. By doubling the number of planes it would mean new flight paths over areas at present peaceful, and huge increases in noise, pollution and road traffic, thus creating an environmental disaster for Sussex, Surrey and west Kent.

BAA accept that the new runway cannot be constructed before 2019, and will only be built if pollution at Heathrow cannot be brought within acceptable limits. We are angry at the suggestion that if aircraft pollution is too bad for Heathrow it should be dumped on Gatwick.

We do not, however, believe that a new runway will ever be built at Gatwick. The site is too cramped, the airlines don't want it, and concern is growing about the impact of aviation on climate change. GACC will be joining environmental groups across Europe to support EU initiatives to restrain the growth in air travel.

OUR COMMENT: In spite of BAA's announced intention of putting in an application for expansion to allow Stansted's one runway to accommodate 35-40 mppa (before applying later to build a second runway) BAA have yet to publish a Master Plan for Stansted Airport. Such a Plan is required so as to inform both the public and the local authorities as to the airport operator's intentions. It is not, however, anything more than a wish list but it is important to know what BAA intends for the future and to ensure that its mere existence does not create a climate of opinion that is met only too often, such as "they are bound to get their way" or "what's the use of opposing expansion, we are wasting our time". Like GACC, we need, on every possible occasion, to oppose this aeronautical "motorway madness" that seems to have infected too many members of the government as well as BAA.

5 April 2005


Airport plans 1m passenger growth

BBC News - 3 April 2005

Southend Airport could attract more than 1m passengers and 1,000 new jobs over the next 10 years, a master plan has revealed.

Managers want to expand flights in the coming two to three years to other parts of the UK and European cities. Destinations could include Edinburgh, Dublin, Barcelona, Rome and Alicante.

By 2015, Southend could be handling as many as 40 passenger flights a day in 75-80 seater planes according to a draft plan presented for consultation.

Low-cost carrier Flybe is due to start services to Jersey out of Southend next month and plans for a new terminal and rail station have already been approved.

The government has already said it would support expansion at Southend subject to relevant environmental considerations.

Airport director Bruce Campbell said: "We are not talking about 'open-ended' growth or becoming another Stansted."

"The airport is willing to operate under strict environmental controls and abide by an agreed overall operating limit."

OUR COMMENT: Would BAA at Stansted enter into such an agreement? With all the concerns about air pollution and climate change, the government ought to be requiring all Airport Master Plans to include proposals for setting the environmental limits to expansion. If such limits were set for Stansted, 25 mppa would certainly be the maximum that could be justified.

Pat Dale

2 April 2005


Charles Kennedy answers your questions

East Anglian Daily Times - 30 March 2005

Q: Why is it necessary to build a second runway at Stansted Airport? How do you defend the destruction of the landscape and the environment?
L S Johnson, Braintree

A: As you may be aware the Lib Dem controlled Uttlesford district council has opposed the expansion at Stansted. A balance always needs to be struck in these cases between the needs of the travelling public and the economy on one hand and the environment and local communities on the other. In the case for a second runway at Stansted, I am not convinced the benefits outweigh the cost sufficiently to go ahead.

2 April 2005


Two-thirds of world's resources 'used up'

Tim Radford, Science Editor - The Guardian - 30 March 2005

The human race is living beyond its means. A report backed by 1,360 scientists from 95 countries - some of them world leaders in their fields - today warns that the almost two-thirds of the natural machinery that supports life on Earth is being degraded by human pressure.

The study contains what its authors call "a stark warning" for the entire world. The wetlands, forests, savannahs, estuaries, coastal fisheries and other habitats that recycle air, water and nutrients for all living creatures are being irretrievably damaged. In effect, one species is now a hazard to the other 10 million or so on the planet, and to itself.

"Human activity is putting such a strain on the natural functions of Earth that the ability of the planet's ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted," it says.

The report, prepared in Washington under the supervision of a board chaired by Robert Watson, the British-born chief scientist at the World Bank and a former scientific adviser to the White House, will be launched today at the Royal Society in London. It warns that:

* Because of human demand for food, fresh water, timber, fibre and fuel, more land has been claimed for agriculture in the last 60 years than in the 18th and 19th centuries combined.

* An estimated 24% of the Earth's land surface is now cultivated.

* Water withdrawals from lakes and rivers has doubled in the last 40 years. Humans now use between 40% and 50% of all available freshwater running off the land.

* At least a quarter of all fish stocks are overharvested. In some areas, the catch is now less than a hundredth of that before industrial fishing.

* Since 1980, about 35% of mangroves have been lost, 20% of the world's coral reefs have been destroyed and another 20% badly degraded.

* Deforestation and other changes could increase the risks of malaria and cholera, and open the way for new and so far unknown disease to emerge.

In 1997, a team of biologists and economists tried to put a value on the "business services" provided by nature - the free pollination of crops, the air conditioning provided by wild plants, the recycling of nutrients by the oceans. They came up with an estimate of $33 trillion, almost twice the global gross national product for that year. But after what today's report, Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, calls "an unprecedented period of spending Earth's natural bounty" it was time to check the accounts.

"That is what this assessment has done, and it is a sobering statement with much more red than black on the balance sheet," the scientists warn. "In many cases, it is literally a matter of living on borrowed time. By using up supplies of fresh groundwater faster than they can be recharged, for example, we are depleting assets at the expense of our children."

Flow from rivers has been reduced dramatically. For parts of the year, the Yellow River in China, the Nile in Africa and the Colorado in North America dry up before they reach the ocean. An estimated 90% of the total weight of the ocean's large predators - tuna, swordfish and sharks - has disappeared in recent years. An estimated 12% of bird species, 25% of mammals and more than 30% of all amphibians are threatened with extinction within the next century. Some of them are threatened by invaders.

The Baltic Sea is now home to 100 creatures from other parts of the world, a third of them native to the Great Lakes of America. Conversely, a third of the 170 alien species in the Great Lakes are originally from the Baltic.

Invaders can make dramatic changes: the arrival of the American comb jellyfish in the Black Sea led to the destruction of 26 commercially important stocks of fish. Global warming and climate change, could make it increasingly difficult for surviving species to adapt.

A growing proportion of the world lives in cities, exploiting advanced technology. But nature, the scientists warn, is not something to be enjoyed at the weekend. Conservation of natural spaces is not just a luxury.

"These are dangerous illusions that ignore the vast benefits of nature to the lives of 6 billion people on the planet. We may have distanced ourselves from nature, but we rely completely on the services it delivers."

2 April 2005


UK could 'miss Kyoto gas target'

Richard Black, BBC Environment Correspondent - BBC News Online - 1 April 2005

The UK's emissions of greenhouse gases rose between 2003 and 2004, according to provisional government data.

The emissions last year were 1.5% above those in 2003, and are now higher than at any time since the Labour government came to power in 1997.

For the first time, the data also suggests Britain could miss its target set down under the Kyoto Protocol.

Opposition politicians and green groups have accused the government of losing control of greenhouse gases.

"The increase in carbon emissions and greenhouse gases shows the failure of Labour's strategy for tackling climate change," said Liberal Democrat shadow environment secretary Norman Baker, in a statement.

"The latest figures mean that we may actually miss our targets under the Kyoto Protocol."

The Kyoto treaty commits Britain to keeping annual greenhouse emissions during the period 2008-2012 to 12.5% below 1990 levels.

In 2002, the UK was 14.4% below 1990 levels, and in 2003, 13.4% below. The provisional figures for 2004 show emissions are 12.6% below - just 0.1% underneath the Kyoto figure.

'Radical changes'

The government says the main reason for the increase is growing energy demand; statistics show that emissions rose from industry, transport and the domestic sector.

"The policy package they have isn't working," Bryony Worthington, climate change campaigner for Friends of the Earth UK, told the BBC News website.

"They need to make radical changes to it, a completely different approach, much more top-down management of emissions across the economy."

"If they don't do that, there's every sign that these trends will continue and we will miss our Kyoto targets."

Prime Minister Tony Blair and Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett have already admitted that Britain will not meet a unilateral target contained in Labour's 1997 election manifesto of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 20% from1990 levels by 2010.

These latest government figures show CO2 emissions in 2004 were just 4.2% below 1990 levels.

'Not good enough'

Environment Minister Elliot Morley was pressed on Wednesday about Britain's record on meeting its international commitments at the launch of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, a comprehensive review of the state of the planet.

He acknowledged the UK needed to work harder to reduce its emissions but emphasised the progress the country had made compared with other nations.

"Whilst it's true there has been an increase in CO2 as a result of increased coal burn because of increased gas prices - in effect, since 1997, CO2 has been basically stable despite 17% [economic] growth," Mr Morley said.

"That's not good enough for us in this country - we have to better than that - but it's a better record than any other industrial country globally."

2 April 2005


Sir Alan Haselhurst will officially open the "Show"

Tuesday 12 April - 2.30pm to 7pm - in the Town Hall

You should be able to see records of all flight tracks, so make a note next week of all those planes crossing over our heads to join the stack over Sudbury.

2 April 2005


Cost of fighting EU airport noise assessed

Environment Daily - 31 March 2005

The European Commission has published a review of the economic implications of imposing curbs on night-time flights from major EU airports. The study is intended to inform the decisions of member states planning action under the 2002 airport noise framework directive.

The directive allows airports with a noise problem to ban aircraft that are only "marginally compliant" with international noise emission standards.

But the measure has not satisfied campaigners and night flights have remained a live political issue. Earlier this year Green MEPs call for tough EU-level restrictions.

Written by consultants MPD and ERM, the report puts the number of jobs dependent on night flights at between 360,000 and half a million. It does not attempt to monetise the economic value of the sector. Three-quarters of night flights are made by passenger aircraft, it says, with most of the rest taken by postal and courier services.

The authors say member state experience shows that airlines facing punitive limits on night flights are more likely to relocate to smaller airports not covered by the directive than to reschedule flights to daytime hours. Governmental pressure against noise pollution in Belgium led to courier firm DHL announcing one such move last year.

The report also warns that introducing night-flight limits could even increase air pollution. Some airlines will decide to avoid curfew periods by flying more slowly from their point of origin - thus using more fuel and producing more emissions.

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